Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lemon pasta and other loves

Today begins the 40( plus change) day journey known as Lent. For those of you who are old school Catholics, the word Let brings up images of a scmear of ashes on the forehead, weeks of trying to give up whatever vice you have become best friends with and Meatless Fridays. To some people, the idea of life without meat is like cruel and unusual punishment, and for others it has come down to thoughts of "how can I make this blue box stuff taste any better". To these people I say meatless meals can be not only tasty but very filling, and the blue box stuff could be used as a charcoal lighter so you can grill a nice piece of salmon or something ( that may be the only way it leads to something that tastes good). Giving up meat for a meal or two ( or more) can enable you to investigate some wonderful options that will show you more flavor than you ever dreamed possible.

One very yummy option I learned from watching David Rocco. Let us all take a moment to bask in his flavor... !

A good looking man who knows how to cook ? What is not to love !  He features very authentic Italian dishes that use olive oil, rosemary, pasta ,tomatoes,veggies, fish and lemons quite frequently. If there is any culture that knows how to use a lemon to a masterful level , it would be the Italians ( followed closely by the Greeks). Lemons grow wild in Southern Italy and Greece, and have had the benefit of thousands of years worth of human ingenuity on how to best use them. Thumbs up to the concept of using local ingredients. It is in this way that you eventually discover things like olive oil. Here in the states this means a rich opportunity for someone to finally discover a use for Garlic Chives ( Jack by the Hedge).

 Or create that great Teasel Casserole using this beautiful person.

When I saw Rocco make this dish for the first time my mouth began to water, and I deeply craved it because of my perception of how these flavors would combine. It was a few days before I was able to make it, but the result was so worth the wait. It is sort of like elevated Mac and Cheese, and so good you may look for many occasions to create this simple but delicious dish  !

                                                          Lemon Pasta- feeds 4 as an entree

1 lb pasta
1 clove garlic
2 lemons
handful fresh parsley
5 T olive oil
1 cup grated cheese ( I like asiago)

Start your water to boil , and assemble your veggies. Take one clove of garlic, slice and rub the inside of your serving bowl with this. Discard the remaining clove. Zest the two lemons, chop your fresh parsley and place these in a bowl.
I use a little micro planer to zest the lemons. You want to get the rind only- that is where the flavor and aroma lies. The white part is bitter - kind of like an older woman reflecting on how she never became Miss State Fair  or married that Donald Trump guy.

In the bowl combine the olive oil, juice from both lemons and salt and pepper to taste. Using a wire whisk, whisk together and then mix in your grated cheese. Cheese and lemon together you say with horror ? Think cheesecake- and relax. They work together !

When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the bowl with the lemon and cheese mixture. Toss well and plate. Top the pasta with the chopped parsley and lemon zest, and additional grated cheese if desired.

The result is something that tastes so fresh and light that you might never eat macaroni with a cheddar sauce again.If you want it less green, use less parsley. Myself, I find that I could eat whole bunches of raw parsley, so I go a bit overboard. Whatever- that is the beauty of making your own food. You can add as much or as little of a seasoning as you desire ( or leave it out entirely). It's your meal- it does not impact me  !

Tasting dishes like this kind of makes me wish that the meatless customs of Lent could go year round. However that sort of idea could lead to the need to place something on your head when you walk into church- like that kleenex in your pocket in cases of an emergency. In these days of Aloe and Lanolin anntibacterial tissues, I would worry about how that might react with my super fluffy/shiny/speaks in fratalian conditioner. It is probably not a good thing.


Loo Loo the Cuckoo said...

That pasta looks absolutely amazing! Where do you watch David Rocco? I've never heard of him!

Di said...

David Rocco can be found on The Cooking Channel- his show David Rocco's Dolce Vita runs right before Jamie Oliver at Home on our cable network. Check your local listings, and if worse comes to worse you can find episodes on You tube. I think he may be the best of the Italian Chefs out there at the moment.