It's Meyer lemon season and I am delighting in their tangy flavor (the appearance of these lemons makes the onset of winter a little more palatable). My grandmother had a Meyer lemon tree in the backyard of her house in Woodland Hills, CA and the first whiff of their signature scent (a little more floral and sweet than a conventional lemon) always takes me back to her kitchen.
Friday night, I was home alone and in need of some dinner. I considered heading down the street for some takeout Thai but having eaten out a whole lot last week, I determined to do something at home with ingredients already in the fridge. Surveying my options, I came upon a bag of Meyer lemons, a third of a package of linguine, some ancient creme fraiche, some already-grated Parmesan cheese (I realize it's a foodie sin to buy it pre-grated, but sometimes it's just so much easier) and a bag of must-be-used arugula.
Those ingredients started a bell in the back of my mind jingling and I dredged up a memory of a recipe that used those components in Amanda Hesser's Cooking for Mr. Latte. Finding the book in a stack in the bedroom, I cooked up what became a delicious and easy solo dinner. The recipe is after the jump.
Linguine with Meyer Lemon Zest, Creme Fraiche and Parmesan Cheese
from Cooking for Mr. Latte (page 197) by Amanda Hesser
Note from Marisa: This is the exact recipe from the book. I made a smaller portion and so fudged the amounts quite a lot. What I'm saying is please feel free to mess around with these flavors and adapt them so that you get something that ends up tasting good to you.
1 pound linguine
Parmesan-Reggiano cheese (a wedge for grating)
2 Meyer lemons
3 handfuls arugula, roughly chopped
1/2 cup creme fraiche
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Fill a large pot with water and season it with lots of salt so that you can taste it. Bring to a boil. Add the linguine and cook until al dente, so that it's still firm, and not quite cooked through. While it cooks, finely grate a handful of cheese into a large serving bowl. Zest he lemons into the bowl, then add the arugula. Scoop out about 1 cup of the pasta water and reserve. Juice one of the lemons and reserve.
2. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and tip in into the serving bowl (I used tongs to scoop the pasta out of the water, which saved me from having to wash a colander) with the cheese and lemon. Woring quickly sprinkle over the lemon juice and a little pasta water. Add the creme fraiche, then begin to fold all of the ingredients together. Fold over and over again until the pasta is slicked with sauce, the cheese is melted, the arugula wilted and the flavors harmonized. Season with pepper. Taste a strandof pasta. Add more lemon juice, salt, pepper and creme fraiche, as desired. If the sauce is too sticky, add a little more pasta water and mix again.
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