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Monday, February 14, 2011

Nutty Pasta

I rarely cook with lemons. My mother has three lovely lemon trees, each a different variety, so why buy them?  But, when visiting my mother, I tend to forget to ask for lemons.  That was not the case this weekend.  I spent a few days with my mother and on a brilliant and warm Southern California Saturday went into the garden to pick a dozen ripe aromatic lemons.  If I really wanted to make a fuss, I could even call them "estate grown, hand picked, organic" lemons.  


On Saturday morning, Mom and I happened to watch an episode of French Food at Home with Laura Calder and saw her resicpe for Nutty Pasta. The recipe struck a chord: Nutty Pasta called for orange -- well, the lemons outside would substitute nicely.  Nutty Pasta also called for a variety of nuts -- I always have walnuts, almonds and other varieties in my freezer. As for the mint, I would skip that -- one can only push Mr Wonderful so far.


Once I got home, I floated the suggestion of a different kind of pasta to Mr. Wonderful. He was mildly interested. I made my version of Nutty Pasta on Sunday night. Success! We both liked it. Thank you Laura Calder for the inspiration.
And to make things even better, we drank a bottle [yes, a bottle, after all it was the night before St. Valentine's Day] of Laetitia Brut Cuvee sparking wine. A perfect match ... just like Mr. Wonderful and me.
Non-Vintage Laetitia Brut Cuvee On Sale!
While the official proportions for Nutty Pasta are here, my variation on a theme is as follows:


  • 2 ounces almonds, shelled
  • 2 ounces pine nuts (toasted)
  • 2 ounces walnuts, shelled
  • 1 bunch fresh flat leaf (a/k/a Italian) parsley leaves
  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • Kosher salt
  • Splash olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese, for grating
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of half the lemon
  • Celery Salt and Pepper to taste

Put the nuts and herbs in the food processor and whiz up. The mixture will be fine, but should still have texture, not be completely pulverized.

Cook the spaghetti in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain. Toss in a bowl with the nuts (reserving some for garnish), olive oil, cheese, lemon juice and zest, celery salt and pepper to taste, if using. Serve immediately

Note:  this dish absorbs olive oil as rapidly as eggplants are able to do.  I recommend that  the splash of olive oil be heavy handed.

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