Bucatini with Lemony Carbonara

My son said, “I may not be able to eat another type of pasta for the rest of my life.” If that wasn’t enough, he then added, “This is one of the best dinners I’ve ever eaten.” I’ll take that complement! 🙂

I must say that the bucatini noodles were wonderful. A perfect complement to this quick and luscious sauce. The added lemon zest and juice in this version of the classic dish balanced nicely with the richness. I also loved the hint of spice from the freshly cracked black pepper.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I served it with roasted asparagus on the side. Absolutely fabulous!

Yield: 4 Servings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 to 8 ounces pancetta, cubed, or slab bacon, thinly sliced and cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 16 ounces bucatini or other long-strand pasta
  • coarse salt
  • 2 ounces Parmesan or Grana Padano Parmesan, grated, divided, plus more for serving
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus thinly sliced zest for serving (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook pancetta, tossing often, until browned and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add pepper and cook, stirring often, just until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1½ cups pasta cooking liquid.
  5. Add pasta to skillet along with ½ cup pasta cooking liquid and 1 oz. Parmesan and toss to coat.
  6. Remove skillet from heat and add egg yolks. Toss again, adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until a smooth glossy sauce coats pasta.
  7. Add grated lemon zest, lemon juice, and another 1 oz. Parmesan. Toss to coat, adding more pasta cooking liquid if needed to loosen sauce. (I added a total of 1 cup pasta water.)
  8. Divide pasta among bowls; top with sliced lemon zest and more Parmesan, as desired.

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Baked Spinach Rice

Yes! More baked rice! 🙂 SO so SO delicious!! This one is loaded with cheese. It is meant to be served as an indulgent side dish, but we ate it as a main dish with a green salad. I loved it. It had fabulous contrasting textures.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. This wonderful dish is an upgrade of one of his favorite family casseroles.

Yield: 6 servings

  • 1 pound spinach (about 2 bunches), washed
  • 1 ½ cups long-grain white rice, such as Carolina, Jasmine, or Basmati
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus more to butter the baking dish
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 cup grated Gruyère
  • ÂĽ cup currants or raisins
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped sage
  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add spinach and wilt for 30 seconds. Remove with a wire mesh spider or tongs and rinse in a colander with cold water. Squeeze dry and chop roughly.
  2. In the same pot, boil the rice for 10 minutes, keeping it slightly underdone. Drain and spread on a baking sheet to cool, then transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  4. Butter a 2-quart soufflé dish (or other baking dish) and dust with about 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan.
  5. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add almonds and cook, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Season lightly with salt and add contents of skillet to rice.
  6. Add remaining Parmesan to rice, along with the ricotta, Gruyère, currants, nutmeg, lemon zest, thyme and sage. Season lightly with salt and add pepper to taste.
  7. Add chopped spinach and gently toss rice with hands or wooden spoons to distribute ingredients evenly.
  8. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. (May be prepared up to this point several hours in advance of baking.)
  9. Cover and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, then uncover and bake 10 minutes more, until top is browned.

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Fresh Ricotta

My husband and I have a favorite local restaurant where we like to go and have a special lunch together. Even though it is quite indulgent, we cannot go without ordering the fresh ricotta cheese appetizer. It is seasoned with lemon and served with warm bread. Irresistible.

I knew that making homemade ricotta was an easy task but had never tried to make it. I’m a little bit worried that now that I’ve finally done it because I’ll be making it all of the time! 🙂 I brought it to serve as an appetizer at a party to spread on slices of sourdough baguette… but- wow- it would also be amazing over pasta with a little drizzle of olive oil.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by J.J. Goode. I added lemon zest (like at my restaurant!) and coarse salt, to taste. I found the consistency was perfect after straining for just twenty minutes. It was beyond creamy, rich, and fabulous.

Yield: about 1 cup

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for seasoning, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or distilled white vinegar
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon, or more, to taste
  1. Bring milk, cream, and 1/2 tsp salt to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice; stir gently until mixture starts to curdle. Let stand 5 minutes.
  3. Pour mixture into a fine-mesh sieve lined with 2 layers of cheesecloth set over a medium bowl.
  4. Chill until cheese is spreadable, at least 20 minutes and up to 12 hours (the longer it strains, the thicker it will be). (I recommend the consistency after about 20 minutes.)
  5. Cover and chill cheese up to 3 days. (If it lasts that long!)

Note/Update: This ricotta was absolutely delicious in Spinach & Ricotta Pappardelle. Wonderful!!

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Wild Rice & Mushroom Soup

When my friend, Julie of Hostess at Heart, posted this mouthwatering soup, I knew that I had to make it for my mushroom-loving Thanksgiving guests. (My family!) It was very well received. 🙂

I adapted the recipe by cooking the wild rice on the stove top in an enameled cast iron pot instead of in the oven. I made it in advance and froze it without any issues. It was earthy, full-flavored, and absolutely fabulous.

Yield: Serves 12

  • 1 1/2 cups wild rice
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 
2 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, plus 8 additional cloves, minced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 0.4 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms (I used a combination of dried portobello & shiitakes)
  • 6 T unsalted butter
  • 24 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 medium or 1 1/2 large yellow onions, chopped fine
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry sherry
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 T light soy sauce
  • 6 T cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 6 T minced fresh chives, plus more for garnish, optional
  1. Bring water, thyme, bay leaf, 2 garlic cloves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and baking soda to boil in a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add rice and return to a boil. (I used an enameled cast iron pot.)
  2. Cover saucepan and cook until rice is tender, about 55 minutes.
  3. Strain rice through a fine-mesh strainer set in a 4-cup liquid measuring cup; discard thyme, bay leaf, and garlic. Add enough water to reserved cooking liquid to measure 4 1/2 cups.
  4. Grind shiitake mushrooms in a spice grinder until finely ground. (You should have about 4 1/2 tablespoons.)
  5. Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat.
  6. Add cremini mushrooms, onions, minced garlic, tomato paste, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper.
  7. Cook stirring occasionally, until vegetables are browned and dark fond develops on bottom of pot, about 15 minutes.
  8. Add sherry, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until reduced and pot is almost dry, about 2 minutes.
  9. Add ground mushrooms, reserved rice cooking liquid, chicken broth, and soy sauce and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until onion and mushroom are tender, about 20 minutes.
  10. In a small bowl, place 6 tablespoons of simmering liquid from pot and whisk in the cornstarch.
  11. Stir cornstarch slurry into soup, return to simmer, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes.
  12. Remove pot from heat and stir in cooked rice, cream, chives, and lemon zest.
  13. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Creamy Tomato Risotto with Crispy Garlic Crumbs

This wonderful dish is truly season-less. I made it with canned tomatoes but it would be amazing adapted to use fresh summer tomatoes and garden herbs. The crispy garlic breadcrumbs add crunch and a burst of flavor.

I modified the original recipe to cook in a pressure cooker- making it an elegant weeknight meal. (I use my pressure cooker almost exclusively for risotto!) This recipe was adapted from Nicky @Kitchen Sanctuary.com. Lovely!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Risotto:

  • 800 g/28 oz can diced tomatoes (or peeled and diced fresh tomatoes)
  • 400 ml/16 fl oz chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow or sweet onion, peeled and chopped finely
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 300 g/11 oz/ 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 150 ml/5 fl oz white wine (optional, replace with stock if you’d prefer)
  • 100 ml/4 fl oz light or heavy cream
  • 60 g/2 oz freshly grated parmesan or pecorino romano
  • freshly squeezed juice of one lemon
  • 2 generous pinches of coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the Crispy Garlic Crumbs:

  • 1 1/2 T unsalted butter
  • generous pinch or two of coarse salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 60 g/2 oz panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 T chopped chives or parsley
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • 40 g/1.5 oz freshly grated parmesan or pecorino romano

To Make the Tomato Stock:

  1. Using a colander or sieve, strain a can of chopped tomatoes over a bowl. Use a spoon to mash the tomatoes left in the sieve to a fine pulp, then pour this pulp back into the tomato juice in the bowl.
  2. Add in the stock and tomato paste and stir. The total yield will be a scant 6 cups.

To Make the Risotto:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pressure cooker (5 to 7 quarts). Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until the onion starts to go translucent, add in the garlic, stir and cook for a further minute.
  2. Add the rice and stir until it turns opaque, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the unheated tomato stock and the wine. Stir to combine.
  4. Lock the lid in place and bring to high pressure over high heat. Adjust the heat to maintain high pressure. Cook for 7 minutes.
  5. Release the pressure according to the manufacturer’s instructions or place the pot under running (drizzling) cold water. 

To Make the Crispy Garlic Crumbs:

  1. Heat the butter in a small frying pan until it starts to foam.
  2. Add the salt and the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add in the breadcrumbs and stir to ensure the butter covers all of the breadcrumbs.
  4. Allow to cook until the breadcrumbs start to brown a little, stirring often. Keep a close eye on them as they burn very easily.
  5. When ready, turn off the heat and add in the herbs, lemon zest and parmesan.

To Finish the dish:

  1. Open the lid of the pressure cooker, being careful of the steam. Add in the cream, cheese, and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well to combine.
  2. Scoop portions out onto shallow bowls or plates. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top and serve.

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Lemony Butter Cookies

My daughter asks to eat every lemon garnish on the table- yes– off of everyone’s plate. She LOVES lemons!! I made these cookies just for her. ❤

I love cookies that incorporate confectioners’ sugar because they have such a light and wonderful texture. The grated lemon zest over the top of the glaze made them pretty as well. This recipe is from Food and Wine, contributed by Kristen Stevens. I refrigerated the dough overnight but brought it to room temperature prior to baking. The recipe made exactly three dozen cookies (a dozen on each cookie sheet) – that never happens! (to me, anyway :/ ) Great!

Bringing this tasty treat to share at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #67 @Fiesta Friday.net. Enjoy!!

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

For the Cookies:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • Finely grated lemon zest, for garnish

Make the Cookies:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° (on convection) and position racks in the upper and lower thirds. (I used 3 racks.)
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter with the confectioners’ sugar until very smooth, about 2 minutes.
  3. Beat in the lemon zest and juice, then beat in the flour and salt until just incorporated; scrape down the side of the bowl as necessary.
  4. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls. Arrange the balls 1 inch apart on 3 baking sheets and, using your fingers, gently flatten each cookie.
  5. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the cookies are lightly browned on the bottom and just firm; rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking.
  6. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

Make the Glaze:

  1. In a bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar with the lemon juice and butter until smooth.
  2. Spread (I used a butter knife) the lemon glaze on the cooled cookies and garnish with finely grated lemon zest.
  3. Let stand until the glaze is set, about 15 minutes.

Note: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

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Rigatoni with Lemon-Chile Pesto & Grated Egg

This lovely dish just screams spring. It is rich and buttery and topped with grated egg yolks. It is cheesy and slightly spicy, but at the same time bright and fresh with lemon juice and zest. It really has it all. 🙂

The recipe for this fabulous dish is from Bon Appetit. It is the third vegetarian pasta I’m bringing to the party this week at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #63. This was my favorite of the three – absolutely delicious!!!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 12 ounces rigatoni or other short pasta
  • coarse salt
  • 4 hard-boiled large egg yolks
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated Meyer lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ ounce Pecorino Romano, finely grated (about ½ cup)
  1. Cover the eggs with 1-inch of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil; remove from heat and cover. Let sit for 12 minutes, drain, and fill with cold water. When cool enough to handle, peel the eggs. Set aside.
  2. Zest and juice the lemons.
  3. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente (pasta will still be opaque and very firm in the center). Drain pasta, reserving 1½ cups pasta cooking liquid.
  4. Meanwhile, finely grate egg yolks on the small holes of a box grater and set aside.
  5. Heat 6 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high.
  6. Add both kinds of lemon zest and juice and red pepper flakes, swirling pan to incorporate.
  7. Add pasta and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid and cook, tossing often and adding more cooking liquid to help finish cooking pasta, until pasta is al dente and sauce is thickened and coats pasta, about 5 minutes.
  8. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Add Pecorino Romano and remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to pasta and toss until melted.
  10. Serve pasta topped with reserved grated egg yolks.

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