Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Back in the Saddle

What’s cooking? Pasta with Lemon-Chile Pesto and Grated Egg

I’ll bet you think the Kitchen Goddess – having successfully arrived in Texas for the season – has been just hanging out on her porch with a cup of coffee and her feet up. Yes, it is tempting. The truth is that the excitement of being back in her Austin kitchen has had her cooking up a storm – being turned loose in a kitchen space that’s easily four times the size of her summer digs makes her almost giddy. Unfortunately, most of that cooking has been from recipes that have already appeared here, so at the end of all this activity, there was woefully little to write about.

Then it occurred to me that you might have missed some of the favorites I’ve served. They’re mostly dishes I love but haven’t made in a while. That’s one of the best things about a change of venue – it causes me to rethink my standard list of what’s-for-dinner. And maybe, like me, you could use a brain jostle, to move away from the same old same old. The mere fact of it being October has stirred in me longings for certain colors and flavors I haven’t thought about in, well, a year. So I have a nice new pasta for you, but first, here’s what else I’ve made recently. Have you tried these?

For my son and his golfing buddy, who came to visit, I made this Cumin Chicken with Squash, Fennel, and Grapes. Nothing that looks this good can be any easier, and you can assemble it early in the day and refrigerate it, then stick it in the oven 45 minutes before you want to serve. Add a green salad or a fruit salad or some roasted asparagus, and dinner is served.

For my book group’s pot-luck supper, I wanted something that would use up the giant crop of cherry tomatoes that greeted me on my return. This Roasted Tomato-Bacon-Goat-Cheese Galette was perfect, and devoured by the ladies. I timed it so that the “cooling-off” period took place on the ride to the meeting, so it was still warm when I arrived. All in, it took me 2 hours, but that includes the time the dough spent firming up in the fridge. And well worth it.

I treated my son and his golfing buddy to this marvelous Coconut Oat Pilaf, as a breakfast one day. The photo on that post looked really dreary, so I re-shot, just to show you what a champ (or chump) I am. And while I was at it, I tweaked the recipe again. The KG never stops thinking...

So now that I have you thoroughly off track, today’s new idea is an easy pasta with the most wonderfully fresh lemon flavor. Really, the combination of the butter and the lemon and the egg yolk makes it feel like some kind of yummy dessert, without the sugar. And the texture... OMG. The sauce is so velvety, it fairly slides down your throat.

Almost there. Just have to juice the lemons and grate the cheese. The lemon
zest did’t make the photo, but it’s ready.
Kitchen Goddess word of warning: There will be a lot of yelling and cursing and jumping around if you don’t get your mis en place with this recipe. You can do some things – like grate the egg yolks and the cheese – while the pasta is cooking. But the pasta will finish cooking in the sauce – yes, in the sauce – so you can’t be still grating lemon rind or squeezing lemons while the pasta is cooking, unless you are a lot faster at grating and squeezing than the KG. Life will be better if those things are done ahead.

Also, you may notice that the pasta I used was not rigatoni, but paccheri, which is larger and floppier than rigatoni. Pish-posh. The Kitchen Goddess uses what’s in the pantry, as long as it’s about the same shape. And she recently was served a magnificent pasta dish with paccheri in Italy, and a similar sauce, and was determined to revisit the experience.

Pasta with Lemon-Chile Pesto and Grated Egg

Adapted from Dawn Perry in Bon Appetit, March 2015.

Serves 4.

This is rigatoni.
12 ounces paccheri or other short pasta (like rigatoni, which is what the original recipe called for)
Kosher salt
4 yolks from hard-boiled large eggs, finely grated (box grater works best)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
juice and finely grated zest of 2 lemons [Kitchen Goddess note: The original recipe calls for juice/zest of 1 Meyer lemon and 1 regular lemon. But the season for Meyer is short. KG once used 1 regular lemon and 1 sweet lime; another time used 2 regular lemons. Delicious both times. Food52.com suggests ½ lemon and ½ orange as substitute for Meyer.]
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes)
Freshly ground black pepper
½ ounce (about ½ cup) Pecorino Romano or Parmegiano-Reggiano, finely grated
Garnish: chopped parsley

In a large pot of boiling salted water (about the taste of the ocean), cook the pasta just long enough that it becomes very al dente. (It will still be opaque and fairly firm in the center). Drain the pasta, but reserve 2 cups of the pasta cooking water.

In a large skillet with at least 2-inch sides (or do as the KG did and use the pot you cooked the pasta in), melt 6 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. (Leave the other 2 tablespoons of butter out to reach room temp.) Whisk in the lemon zest and juice and the Aleppo pepper (or pepper flakes) until well combined.

Add the pasta and 1 cup of the pasta water and stir with a wooden spoon (gentler on the pasta), tossing the pasta often and adding more cooking liquid as needed, until the pasta reaches al dente and the sauce thickens and coats it. This will take about 5 minutes. Season with salt and freshly (!) ground pepper to taste.

Remove the skillet or pot from the heat and stir the additional 2 tablespoons of butter into the pasta and sauce. Sprinkle on the grated cheese, and toss until the cheese melts. Serve the pasta with the grated egg yolks sprinkled on top, and a small amount of parsley.


  1. My dear KG,
    You have outdone yourself!
    You could have stretched this single blog into several! I, for one, am tickled that you didn’t.
    Such a wealth of beautiful recipes. I don’t know what to try first! You are THE best, my friend.
    Eileen in (chilly) Atlanta

  2. Always good to hear from you, Eileen. From your recent FB post and this message, I take it you, too, are back in the saddle -- creating and cooking! Glad to hear it.