Monday, January 14, 2013

When God Give You Lemons, Enjoy!

Things have been quiet here in The Brown Kitchen lately.  Between post holiday recuperation and a busy travel schedule for hockey this month there hasn’t been any entertaining, or kitchen dancing, going on.  Things will get cranking back up here in the next few months but in the meantime here’s a simple dish I love making that you may want to try - Lemon Puttanesca.  

I love pasta and I love simple sauces, the kind I can make while the water is boiling and the pasta is cooking.  Puttanesca fits the bill perfectly.  Spaghetti alla Puttanesca (which translate’s as ‘Whore’s Spaghetti’) is an earthy, salty dish that is hearty and easy to make.  It’s made with olives, capers, anchovies and crushed tomatoes.  Here’s a recipe if you want to try it the traditional way (which I whole heartedly encourage you to do) - 

While I have made puttanesca many times and love it for it’s taste and simplicity, I often make it with lemons instead of tomatoes.  I’m crazy about lemons and will use any excuse I can to cook with them.  I love the bright flavor and acidity they bring to dishes.  I also use linguine or fettucine instead of spaghetti.  Pasta is all about texture and shape.  I’ve never been a big fan of spaghetti, preferring the flatter shape of linguine to the rounder shape of spaghetti, but use whatever pasta you prefer!


While you’re water is boiling and cooking pour yourself a glass of wine and make the sauce - 
Saute chopped or crushed garlic and some crushed red pepper in some good olive oil.  In the meantime drain some capers and chop up some kalamata olives - you can use other types of black olives if you want, I just prefer the taste and saltiness of the kalamatas.  Once the oil gets hot and the garlic starts to simmer add some flat anchovy fillets.  You want to add them well before the garlic gets going good - the key is to have them break up and dissolve in the hot oil, but you want them to do so before the garlic would burn.  Once the garlic is going good and the anchovies are dissolving add the capers and chopped olives.  Let this go for a bit.  Normally you would season here but with this dish I don’t - between the anchovies, capers and olives there are so many salty ingredients I often don’t add any salt at all.  If I do it’s at the very end.  Once everything in the pan is cooking away nicely add some fresh squeezed lemon juice and a splash of dry white wine (which you hopefully are already enjoying as you stand at the stove cooking).  You also want to take some of the lemon and grate lemon zest from the rind into the dish.  Let this bubble away and simmer down as the pasta finishes cooking.  When the pasta is done drain it, pour the sauce over, add some freshly chopped basil, season if needed and serve with lots of freshly grated cheese and some good crusty bread.  Wash it all down with the dry white wine you have been drinking - I prefer a sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio.


PS - Forgive me if I don’t give you any measurements of how much of each ingredient to add.  I don’t ever measure when cooking unless absolutely necessary.  I almost never make a dish exactly the same way twice as a result, but I find it’s more fun to go with the flow and wing it each time, maybe change things up as the feeling strikes me during the cooking process.  

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