Lemon Spaghetti

This weekend my husband and I are moving ninety miles down the coast from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles, and our apartment is filled with boxes in preparation for loading the U-haul on Saturday. This means that our kitchen is down to the bare bones we need to survive – we’re already using plastic cups and plates, and tomorrow I’ll be packing up our pots and pans.

So, this will likely be my last post for at least a week (maybe two). But I will be back! Our computer won’t be set up for a bit, and as most of you know, moving is exhausting and leaves little time for home cooking.

We had one more meal before pulling the take-out menu’s from the drawer. It was chosen for its simplicity, and that it made use of the ingredients we had left in the kitchen - fresh lemon, spaghetti, a small block of Parmesan cheese, and fresh basil from the deteriorating little plant on our patio. 

As much as I’ve complained about this kitchen I’ve cooked in for the past two and a half years, it’s been home. I’ve grown to at least appreciate – I can’t say love – our electric stove, and the building’s original avocado green oven that tends to burn the bottom of anything I bake. Yes, there’s a legitimate reason why you haven’t seen a lot of sweets yet.

I hope you can enjoy this dish whenever you’re a bit crazed too, or when you’re looking for something perfect in its simplicity. It might not look like much (the color of lemon juice and zest tends to blend into the beige spaghetti noodles), but the flavors will tell you otherwise.

The aromas of fresh lemon and nutty cheese will instantly calm you down. The pasta doesn’t need anything else to be delicious, but you could easily add toasted pine nuts or grilled shrimp for some extra pizzazz. It would also be wonderful with sides like stuffed peppers, asparagus and prosciutto, or a fresh green salad, but if you can’t muster anything but a big pot of pasta, you’re in luck – this dish is wildly comforting and requires minimal effort. 

Lemon Spaghetti

Recipe courtesy Giada de Laurentiis

1 pound spaghetti

2/3 cup olive oil

2/3 cup grated Parmesan

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the oil, Parmesan, and lemon juice in a large bowl to blend.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with the lemon sauce, and the reserved cooking liquid, adding 1/4 cup at a time as needed to moisten. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon zest and chopped basil.