When I was younger, I wanted to be a writer and write these amazing stories ……stories with beautiful prose that moves you and you can literally see the images that are being described. I love the blogs that use that kind of beautiful prose and you can literally see the steam rising from the food on the plate!! I however cannot write like that. I am one of those people who writes the way she talks. I have tried, believe me, but it always ends up sounding forced and artificial……….like a robot trying to describe an emotion!! So what is one to do in that situation, continue the way you’ve been going on, I suppose and hope that it works.
I recently came across a recipe by Nigella Lawson…PASTA WITH LEMON, GARLIC, and PARSLEY AND BREADCRUMBS. I kept surfing the Internet hoping to find a shorter name but the closest I came was “Spaghetti Aglio Olio” but it had no lemon. I found this particular recipe in her book “Nigellissima” after watching her make it on her show with the same name. I was struck by it simplicity…. it has only 6 ingredients not including salt, pepper and water !!! Now after that came the immediate thought…god, its probably going to be dry and not the way I like to eat pasta. I am not a fan of a boatload of sauce but I do like it moist to a certain degree !!! I have to say I was surprised…in the most pleasant way!
Now, if you have watched her shows, you will understand the power of words…her recipes are not the most inventive or different but the way she talks about them, you immediately want to make it just to experience the emotions!!! She is eloquent about the joy of cooking and the beauty behind the fact that you can add your touches. I would love to have that mastery over words!!! Even the smallest detail like the tedious job of whipping egg whites receives the same passion that the first bite of a chocolate hazelnut cheesecake receives.
This particular pasta dish is a peasant dish from the south of Italy. Toasted breadcrumbs are known as “Parmigiano dei poveri “ or the Parmesan of the poor. If these are the results of not having enough money for Parmesan, by all means lets skip the Parmesan!! The result is nutty, spicy and tangy pasta with a floral note from the herbs. Soft, luscious pasta with crunchy breadcrumbs…Simple perfection!!! I loved it and so did my family, surprisingly. My family goes thru phases, where they will eat something but then “realize” that they don’t like it at all. So basically I had to ask myself this question…did I want to battle it out every dinner or just go with the flow and wait until they “realized” they liked pasta again!!! Luckily for me, this time I only had to wait a couple of weeks before they reached this phase. Now the kids only eat plain pasta so this was ideal for me, I just had to omit the herbs…they are green, you see!!!
A couple of things to remember though, use the best quality pasta you can get, preferably fresh. Also, use good bread and make the breadcrumbs yourself ……..do not use the boxed kind…it does make a difference! I used cilantro b’coz that’s what I had. I also happen to be one of those people who like it and I don’t use parsley all that much!!! You decide what you want to use. I also kinda increased the amount of red chili flakes, as I like it spicy! I don’t think I measured my breadcrumbs either… when it looked right, it was right but I have included the amount for you. An ideal dish for a simple weeknight dinner but its comfort food at the same time! As they say I Italy…Buon Appetito!!!!
PASTA WITH LEMON, GARLIC, CILANTRO AND BREADCRUMBS
3 tbsp. Olive Oil
zest and juice of 1 Lemon
3/4 cup coarse homemade Breadcrumbs
½tsp. Red Chili Flakes
3 cloves Garlic minced
1 lb. Spaghetti/Linguine
Salt to taste
1/3 cup finely chopped Cilantro
½-1 cup pasta water
Cook the pasta in salted boiling water till al dente…it should have a slight bite to it. Drain the pasta making sure to aside 1 cup of the pasta water.
While its cooking, place cubes of good white bread in a food processor and give it a blitz till it forms coarse crumbs. You need about ¾ cup.
Toast the breadcrumbs in 1 tbsp. olive oil till they are lightly browned.
Remove from heat and mix in the cilantro and lemon zest. Set aside.
In the remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil, lightly sauté the garlic and red chili flakes.
Now add the lemon juice and pasta water. Let it cook for a couple of minutes till it forms a sauce of sorts.
Add the pasta and mix it well. Cook for a minute.
Add in ¾Th of the breadcrumb mixture and mix well.
Remove and serve garnished with the remaining breadcrumb mixture.