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When Life Hands You Lemons

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There are certain things I love in this world for sure: one of them is a good plate of pasta and one of them is the Italian countryside.  During the summer before my junior year of high school, I was fortunate enough to spend five weeks in Italy, traveling primarily around Rome, Lucca, Venice, and a small mountain village in Torino.  To this day (despite gaining 20lbs in five weeks and having my mom tell me that I “looked like a sausage stuffed inside my skin”), it remains one of my favorite experiences. 

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My fondest food-inspired memory from the trip (and believe me, there were many, otherwise I would not have come back a “sausage”) is of a sunny afternoon spent making homemade tagliatelle pasta and fresh pesto for lunch.  Of course, I’ve never been able to replicate that meal since, considering I lack both my host mother’s handy mezzaluna and her Italian cooking skills, but the point that I’m slowly getting to is that Giada’s Lemon Spaghetti pasta recipe, which my roommate always talks about, reminds me of how simple, elegant dishes can make a powerful memory.  Giada’s recipe is posted after the jump.

NYTimes – Mangia, Mangia: Through Home Food, Being a Guest for Meals at Italian Homes

Gourmet – My Inner Italy

My real Italy is like everyone’s: Tuscany, the yews and views, yellows and browns, good red wine, beautiful figs, north to Venezia and its perfect, tottering beauty, and south to Sicily, to Catania and Siracusa and the ruins and the olives and lavender and the trees bent over to meet the ground—all that. But my inner Italy is heaven on earth, it is always early June at the villa, the sauce bubbles, the dead and the living raise their glasses and the wild roses are everywhere.



  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves


Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the oil, Parmesan, and lemon juice in a large bowl to blend.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with the lemon sauce, and the reserved cooking liquid, adding 1/4 cup at a time as needed to moisten. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon zest and chopped basil.


Written by doorr

April 14, 2010 at 12:15 pm

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