Pasta With Fried Lemons and Chile Flakes

by Hilary Gauntt on February 12, 2015

It’s time for lists of last years best recipes, and this was the New York Times most popular recipe for 2014! It’s fairly simple and makes a great entree on it’s own, or can share the plate with a pork chop like it did in our house last night. The tips given were not to skip the blanching step -it sounds fussy but eliminates the bitterness in the pith and takes only a few minutes as you are already boiling the water for the spaghetti.  Dry the slices well before adding to the hot oil; this will help them brown more deeply.  I really didn’t know you could eat slices of unpeeled lemon, but prepared this way they’re delicious.  Recipe contributed by Melissa Clark.

4 lemons

1 pound linguine or spaghetti

4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling

1 tsp. kosher salt, more as needed

pinch of sugar

3 Tbs. of unsalted butter

3/4 tsp. chile flakes,more to taste

2/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, more to taste

Black pepper, as needed

1/2 cup celery leaves, coarsely chopped (optional)

1/3 cup parsley, coarsely chopped (optional)

Flaky sea salt for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Finely zest 2 of the lemons and set aside.  Trim the tops and bottoms of the other two lemons and cut lengthwise into quarters; remove the seeds.  Thinly slice the quarter crosswise into triangles.  Blanch the lemon pieces in the boiling water for two minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a dish towel.  Blot dry.

In the boiling water, add pasta and cook until just barely al dente.  Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tbs. of the oil over high heat.  Add the dried lemon pieces and season with a pinch each of salt and sugar.

Cook until the lemons are caramelized and browned at the edges, 3 to 5 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.

Melt the butter with the remaining oil in the pan over medium heat.  Add the chile flakes and zest of both lemons; cook until fragrant.  Whisk in the reserved pasta water.

Toss in pasta, juice of one lemon, cheese, pepper and the remaining salt.  Cook until pasta  is well coated with sauce.  Toss in the caramelized lemon and celery leaves and parsley, if using.  Taste and add lemon juice if needed.  Serve, topped with a drizzle of oil, more cheese if you like, and a sprinkle of sea salt.  Serves 4 to 6.

Note: My lemons were quite large, so first taste of completed dish was slightly tart.  Perfectly solved by adding more cheese – YUM. The salt and pepper are also important -remember to add more at the end.

lemon pasta


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