Leave it to Portland’s queen of simple elegance to devise an early spring pasta dish that balances creamy comfort with clean, citrusy brightness—using just six ingredients. One of the many things we love about Jenn Louis’ food is her remarkable restraint and instinctive understanding of how to make a star ingredient shine.
Here she honors Meyer lemons, which are reaching the end of their season. “It’s always hard to say good-bye to them,” Louis says. “They’re delicate and less sour than regular lemons.” (Cooks without access to Meyers can add a little sweet fresh orange juice to regular lemon juice for a similar effect.)
In this pasta dish, Louis says she sought a balance between rich and light. “I’m health conscious. I thought ricotta would make for a creamy sauce that wasn’t heavy.” Louis blends ricotta cheese, a touch of cream, and Meyer lemon juice and its fragrant rind into a smooth, silken sauce with a luxurious mouthfeel and alluring tang that keeps taste buds standing at attention. She smartly uses the starchy pasta water to thin the sauce to the right consistency and help it emulsify and cling to the noodles. Chopped fresh chives add a bit of pungency. Then she gilds this spring lily with a touch of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for salty umami satisfaction. Try Louis’ original version this month at Lincoln Restaurant in Portland.
Bucatini with Meyer Lemon Cream and ChivesHands-on: 20 min. Total: 20 min.Meyer lemons--with their hint of orangey sweetness--make a bright and irresistible flavoring for this early spring pasta dish. For an extra-special touch, you can garnish with lemon rind strips and serve with lemon wedges.
8 ounces uncooked bucatini or linguine pasta2 teaspoons grated Meyer lemon rind1/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (about 2 lemons)1/4 cup heavy whipping cream4 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese (about 1/2 cup)1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives1 teaspoon kosher salt1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (about 1/4 cup)
1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta over a bowl; reserve 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cooking liquid.
2. Place 6 tablespoons cooking liquid, lemon rind, juice, cream, and ricotta in a blender; process until smooth.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add ricotta mixture to pan; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Add pasta, chives, salt, and pepper. Add remaining 1/2 cup cooking liquid as needed to make mixture creamy. Remove from heat; stir in grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
SERVES 4 (serving size: 1 cup)CALORIES 331; FAT 10.3g (sat 6g, mono 2.8g, poly 0.7g); PROTEIN 13g; CARB 46g; FIBER 2g; CHOL 35mg; IRON 2mg; SODIUM 605mg; CALC 167mg