Every so often a dish transcends you back to your childhood and is almost successful in transporting you to the kitchen’s of where the dishes originated! The dish I am sharing with you all today is one such treasure. My Nonna raised nine children on one small income. But what she lacked in her wallet, she made up for in her garden. I remember it being lush, fragrant and so much taller than I was. As I lived next door to her, and no fence separated us, she could open a window and simply call us over. Her garden was always full of tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, eggplant and lettuce…ah yes, the lettuce! There was Romaine, Watercress, Escarole. A sea of green! Each night I would run over and pick the vegetables which were on my Mother’s dinner menu. There is a special bond one makes with the earth when you reap the rewards of your sowing. Lettuce still warm from the day’s setting sun. Our insalata was always dressed with Olive Oil and Vinegar. So simple but yet delicious! I think I was 25 before I realized there were other salad dressings out there 🙂 Today I share a dish which is in the category of Cucina Povera or in English translated to “Poor Kitchen”. Back in the day, there was hardly any processed food, all came from your pantry, your canning cellar or your garden. This is one such dish which can surely be made from your Cucina Povera. I hope you enjoy!
Lemon Spaghetti with Garlic Toasted Breadcrumbs
1 lb of Spaghetti (use what you like; Linguine, Angel Hair, Fettucine)
1 Lemon Fresh Basil
Parmesan Cheese Salt & Pepper
3 cloves garlic 1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (or what you have on hand)
1/2 stick of butter Olive Oil
Boil the water for the pasta. Add 1/2 tsp salt to the water. When boiling add the pasta. Cut the Lemon in half and add to the pot. Pasta should be cooked til Al Dente. In a skillet under Medium heat, add enough Olive Oil to coat the bottom of a heavy skillet (not enough to fry but to saute). Add 1/2 the butter (reserving the other half for later). Add in the garlic cloves which have been peeled and smashed. Heat until the garlic is carmelized. Add in a pinch of the fresh Basil chopped fine. Be sure not to burn the garlic. Once browned, remove the garlic from the pan (if folks don’t like it and toss). Add the breadcrumbs into the skillet. Turn off the heat and just incorporate the crumbs into the oil. The mixture should be coarse not soupy, so adjust the ingredients accordingly. Once incorporated, add in 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Mix that into the breadcrumb mixture. Add two pinches of black pepper.
Drain the pasta, discarding the lemon. Place the cooked pasta into a large bowl and squeeze the lemon half (reserved) onto the pasta. Add in the remaining Butter (reserved) and toss. Pour the contents of the Breadcrumb mixture onto the pasta. Sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese and Fresh Basil. Mangia!