Some people prefer the good news-bad news-good news sandwich (you know, like the compliment sandwich); me, I prefer serving the bad news open-faced and supported by a solid cushion of good news.
So here it is. The bad news: it’s been really fracking cold here and it’s still technically autumn. Bla.
The good news: citrus is about to get really tasty and it is now seasonally appropriate to crank the oven and cook rib-sticking meals.
See, it’s not so bad, right? And if you’re lucky like us and have radiators that keep your apartment at a perpetual 85 degrees (at least), you can still get away with wearing next to nothing and pretending that it’s still warmer out. (Aside: since we can access the store beneath us via an interior elevator, I really enjoy finding the flimsiest excuse to go there on a really cold day dressed in a tank top, skirt and flip-flops and mess with all of the other customers. It’s so much fun.)
But to resume: a few weeks ago I was at the first annual New York Produce Show and Conference and had done a few laps around all of the booths, slowly acquiring a few bags of swag. The thing is with a produce show is that swag is not contained to brochures, pens and other giveaway items that you can order in l0ts of 500–you also can receive actual food. The folks at Duda Fresh Produce kindly bestowed a bag of Meyer lemons to me after I cooed (yes, that is the appropriate word) about how much I love those little lemon-tangerine hybrids and that Giada DeLaurentiis was the person to introduce them to me years ago on Everyday Italian. One of the great pieces of information that I picked up at the show was that many of the “specialty” citrus varieties like Meyer lemons are no longer limited to the month-long growing windows of old because more growers have the trees in their groves, which makes them more accessible and also (hopefully) a little cheaper.
This acquisition necessitated finding an appropriate vehicle for them immediately, so I started flipping through my cookbooks that weekend…but nothing was jumping out at me. Mario Batali had an intriguing fresh pasta recipe that brought lemon zest to the party that sort of held my interest, but Michael rightly vetoed it in the end.
So I decide to do a little browsing on David Rocco’s website. His show David Rocco’s Dolce Vita tends to reduce me into a pool of seething envy and extreme hunger between his gorgeous travelogue of Italy and the mouthwatering recipes he makes every episode, so I figured I’d find something. His Spaghetti al Limone was pretty classic (not all that different from Giada’s) but was the impetus I needed to start switching some of the flavors a bit. We’ve been getting Grana Pandano in lieu of Parmigiano-Reggiano because it’s been cheaper at both Murray’s and Fairway by a couple dollars a pound, and I was in the mood for a different herb here–just something different than either basil (expensive and so delicate) or parsley (just wasn’t feeling it). If I had some fresh green garlic growing at home I’d totally snip off some of the shoot and use it, but since that wasn’t an option some chives worked quite well. The recipe is below–I think it needs a bit of tweaking (maybe blending in more regular lemon or tangerine zest/juice and using angel hair instead of a thicker pasta), but for something fast and still quite delicious it’s worth a try.
n the meantime, just go ahead and make David Rocco’s meatballs. Who knew that ricotta cheese would serve well as a delicious binder? I’ll tell you what: Michael, the ricotta-eschewer in our household, inhaled these spheres of cheesy, meaty goodness to the point where we had no leftovers, so clearly something is going well in this recipe. The next step is to try this technique with ground turkey to add a little richness into our weeknight staple.
Meyer Lemon-Pericatelli with Chives
serves 2 with leftovers
1 lb pericatelli or bucatini
4 Meyer lemons, zested and juiced (keep zest separate from juice)
1/3 cup olive oil
3/4 cup Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 bunch chives, minced (use kitchen shears)
Kosher salt and pepper
Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil and salt well and cook pasta to about a minute shorter than package directions. Reserve a cup of the pasta cooking liquid if needed.
Combine lemon juice, cheese and olive oil into a bowl and season with salt and pepper; whisk to combine. When pasta has been drained and returned to the pot, add contents of bowl and toss well to coat.
Add zest and chives and toss again; season with more salt and pepper if desired. Serve immediately.