Friday, August 6, 2010

Lemon Fusilli

We love Ina Garten aka Barefoot Contessa (which by the way have you ever seen that movie it's kind of depressing) . Love her.  A few years ago when we visited Paris, one of the definitive highlights of the trip (I'd say top 3) was spotting Ina and her husband Jeffrey on the street, and assaulting them.  Jeffrey kindly offered to take a picture of us. 

Kevin and I were clearly over the moon in taking this photo.  Ina doesn't look like it, but really she's thinking about the best way to invite us to dinner at her Paris apartment that night.  We had to decline. 

This past spring I really got into cooking/baking with lemons.  The summer produce wasn't out yet, and while I'm not expecting to find lemons at the farmers' market or anything, they're Spring enough so I went with it.  I was looking for a pasta that had a good dose of lemon in the sauce, and Ina came through for me with her  Fusilli with Lemon. I made it a while ago with good results, and I decided to revisit it last week.

  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 2 cups heavy cream  (I used half and half this time around, which I think ended up being a mistake)
  • 3 lemons (2 for cooking, 1 for garnish--but before...oh never mind I'll tell you later)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch broccoli (or whatever you like--I used asparagus the first time I made this, and this time around I made it with baby zucchini)
  • 1 pound dried fusilli pasta
  • 1/2 pound baby arugula (or 2 bunches of common arugula, leaves cut in thirds) (this is a shitload of arugula, I think next time I'll do 1/4 pound)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
Serves 4-6 (I would say much closer to 6, unless you're the Mr. Brawny type)

If you were making this with broccoli, you would chop up the florets and blanch them.  I was using zucchini so I sliced them lengthwise down the middle and chopped them into 1-inch chunks. Aren't they precious.

    I then sauteed them for a few minutes in olive oil, with a little sprinkling of salt.  Remove from heat and set aside.  To make things easier on myself I piled the non-sauce ingredients into a bowl--the sauteed zucchini, chopped cherry tomatoes, arugula, and parmesan cheese.  This bowl of goodness would be the stuff I throw in later to the cooked pasta and lemon/cream sauce.

    I love tomatoes. Have I told you that?

    For the sauce, it's basically lemon juice, lemon zest, cream, garlic salt and pepper.

    In a large pot/saute pan/whatever, saute your garlic in the olive oil, and then add the lemon juice, zest, cream, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until it gets thick.

    There are two major things I would have done differently at this point.  First, I used half and half to be a wee bit healthier.  I'm not sure if it was the switch or just natural curdling, but the lemon juice curdled the 1/2 and 1/2 and it kinda stayed that way.  I don't remember this happening the first time I made it, when I used cream.  Anyway, I whisked it towards the end to try and smooth it out but it wasn't entirely successful.

    The second thing? I must have used super lemons this time, because it was really acidic.  Kevin said it was yummy, but I think he was just being nice and for my personal taste I would start with 1.5 lemons and add to taste from there. The other unfortunate consequence of the steroid lemons was that the sauce took a really long time to thicken up, and I resorted to putting cornstarch in it. Whatever.

    Cook your pasta but shave 1 minute off the recommended cooking time, drain and place into the pot with your sauce.

    Toss pasta with sauce and cook for a minute or two to let the pasta absorb some of the sauce.  Take off heat and toss with zucchini, arugula, tomatoes and parm.

    Yes, he wears that shirt in public.



    1. Looks so yummy, and that bowl of goodness could be eaten alone and still be awesome.

    2. OMG! This looks effin good. So fun that you saw Ina in Paris!!! I bet it was easier to approach her there since you're all Americans?

      Michael Chiarello was hanging out at the shops near my house and I didn't go up to him or anything because I am lame. I totally wanted to.

      PS. I love arugula. I love anything with arugula.

    3. Oh Ina!! Lucky lucky you! And the fusilli looks gorgeous too.

    4. wow, what crazy luck meeting Ina like that. i've never seen those cool two-tone squash.

    5. that closeup pic of the tomatoes is making me drooly.

    6. I'm sooooo jealous! I've met Paula Deen but watch Ina every day after work. :)

    7. I'm jealous of your Ina encounter, and I love that you took a pic with her!

    8. I have 2 of Ina's cookbooks now, 2! I have not used either. Yum, lemon pasta.

    9. I made this tonight! I followed your suggestions to use half and half and a little less lemon and it was deLICious! yum.