Tagliolini with Meyer lemon, basil, pistachios, and Pecorino Romano.

Tagliolini with Meyer lemon, basil, pistachios, and Pecorino Romano

After not making fresh pasta for a month because we were traveling, to say I was eager to get back at it is an understatement. Whether we were actually out of town on a Sunday or we were about to hit the road on a Monday morning, it seemed silly to make a full batch of pasta only to let the leftovers linger in the fridge untouched until we got home. I knew my patience would be rewarded, and I was able to have some amazing meals across the country instead, so I wasn’t complaining.

Spring may be here, but getting great specialty citrus is still very much a thing, and I’m so glad that Meyer lemons really have grown in popularity that you can find them in stores until June or even July these days. (The reason for that, as I learned from a Sunkist rep 12 years ago, is that as demand grows for citrus, more trees get planted, and the growing season lasts longer.) I love using Meyers in no-cook sauces for pasta because the flavor is delicate and doesn’t need that added intensity, and instead I like to pair it with delicate herbs like basil and mix it up with different cheeses and other add-ons. Essentially I take Giada De Laurentiis’s basic lemon spaghetti recipe and do some fun variations with it.

This one feels a bit Sicilian in nature, between the lemons, the basil, the Pecorino Romano, and of course, the pistachios. I like the bit of added crunch the pistachios offer, and the sharpness of the cheese goes well with the sour-sweet taste of the Meyer lemon, while the basil adds freshness. In a way it’s kind of like a lemony deconstructed pesto, and it’s even easier to make than pesto because no blending or pounding with a mortar and pestle is needed to bring it together. It still feels as light and bright as a pesto–just a different way of enjoying the same flavors.

Tagliolini with Meyer lemon, basil, pistachios, and Pecorino Romano

Serves 4 

  • 1 recipe 9-yolk egg pasta dough, brought to room temperature
  • 2 Meyer lemons
  • 3 ounces fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
  • ½ cup pistachios, shelled and chopped
  • ⅔  cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano, divided
  • Kosher salt

Special equipment: pasta machine (I like this one)

Fill a large pot with water and set it to low. In the meantime, roll out the pasta: use a board scraper/bench knife to cut off about a quarter of the dough ball, and use your hands to flatten it as much as possible. Run it through your pasta rollers at their widest setting to flatten it more, and then fold it into thirds (a book fold), rotate the dough to have the folds perpendicular to the machine, and run it through again. Repeat this two more times. Then run the dough sheet through the rollers, increasing the number to 6 on an Atlas 150, and then cut the dough on the thinnest setting, coil, and set aside on a silicone mat or parchment paper. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

To make the sauce, zest and juice the Meyer lemons into a large bowl, and add in the basil, the pistachios, half of the cheese, and the extra virgin olive oil, and stir well to combine. 

Turn the water up to high to bring it to a boil, and then season it with kosher salt (about a tablespoon works) and add the pasta nests. Cook for about 2 minutes until they float, drain, and then place in the large bowl and stir well to coat the pasta with the sauce. Plate onto four dishes or bowls, and serve immediately with the extra cheese if desired.

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