Sunday, July 24, 2011

Spaghetti Al Limone (Lemon Spaghetti)

Spaghetti Al Limone
(Lemon Spaghetti)
serves 4
This recipe marries the sweet flavour of Amalfi lemons with fresh basil  to transport  you back to the sunny hillsides of the Amalfi coast of Italy if you've been  there and will make you long for the warmth of the Southern Italian coast if you never have.   While it makes a light summertime pasta dish, you can also kick-up the recipe with the addition of the Prosciutto ham and the heat of the red pepper flakes.


1 pound  spaghetti
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
½  cup fresh lemon juice, about 3 lemons
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
½  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste (optional)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
¼ pound thinly sliced Prosciutto, cut into chiffonade (optional)


1.   Bring a large quantity of heavily salted water to a boil in a large pot over high heat.  When the water comes to a boil add the spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, according to package directions until al-dente', about 8 minutes.
2.  Meanwhile, if you are going to use red pepper flakes, heat the oil add red pepper flakes and sauté in a small sauté pan for 1 or 2 minutes to allow the oil to absorb the pepper's spiciness.  Allow the red pepper oil to cool.   If you are not using red pepper flakes skip to step 3.
3.  In a large bowl or measuring cup,  whisk together the olive oil (including the pepper flakes if used), Parmesan cheese and lemon juice.
4.  Drain the pasta reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.  Place the drained pasta in a large, high sided sauté pan over medium heat.
5.  Add the lemon sauce and toss the pasta to distribute the sauce, if the pasta  is too "tight" add the reserved pasta cooking liquid, ¼ at a time, and continue tossing until sauce "loosens up" to your liking.
6.  Add chiffonade Prosciutto, if you chose to add it, and continue to toss to distribute.
7.  Correct seasoning with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon zest and chopped basil and serve immediately.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Insalata Caprese

Insalata Caprese
(Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella, and Basil Salad)
serves 4


½ pound fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into ¼-inch thick slices
2 large ripe tomatoes, sliced into ¼-inch thick slices
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup good balsamic vinegar
1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 or 3 large cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
Coarse Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons drained capers (optional)

Crusty Italian bread or Baguette, sliced into ¼ inch slices


1.  Arrange the tomato and fresh mozzarella slices in an alternating, circular pattern around the edge of a large platter  (or on individual plates if you are doing individual portions) creating an overlapping for effect of tomato slices and mozzarella slices.
2.  Chiffonade the basil leaves and sprinkle liberally over the slices.  Distribute the capers over the top of the slices.
3.  In a small bowl whisk the olive oil, the balsamic, and garlic.  Taste and correct seasoning with salt and pepper and distribute the mixture over the tomato, mozzarella, and basil on the platter.
4.  For best taste, allow the salad to rest about 1 hour before serving.
5.  Serve with accompanied by slices of crusty Italian bread or baguette on which to create an hors d'oeuvres portion*.

*a portion is considered one tomato topped slice of mozzarella atop of a slice of the bread topped by some of the chiffonade basil leaves and capers.

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