lemon spaghetti

My friend Skye McAlpine is one of those hosts who makes it look easy — a bowl of ripe peaches, a hunk of salty parmesan, a couple of kids underfoot. So, when I saw that she wrote a new cookbook, I jumped at the chance to learn some of her secrets. It’s filled with burrata platters, couscous salads and carpaccio plates (with “runny honey”) and all the kinds of food that shout “pull up a chair!” Here’s her lemony pasta, where the flavors burst with simple ingredients…

Spaghetti With Creamy Lemon Sauce
From A Table for Friends by Skye McAlpine

“This recipe – like eating a bowl of sunshine – is so simple that even I can happily chat and bring it together at the same time. I prepare the sauce in advance and leave it covered on the hob, then, while the pasta is bubbling, slice the lemon, shuffle everyone to the table and assemble the dish once they are sitting down, so they eat it hot. You need little more with this, as it’s pretty much a meal in itself. Perhaps a nice green salad.”

Recipe: Spaghetti With Creamy Lemon Sauce
Serves 4

2 lemons
4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Scant 1 cup of half-and-half
1 egg yolk
3/4 pound (about 4 portions) spaghetti
A small bunch of thyme
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Meanwhile, finely zest both the lemons and toss the zest into a deep frying pan, then add the olive oil and set it over a medium heat. Gently fry the zest for a few minutes until it begins to take on a deep, vibrant yellow color.

Now pour in the cream and the egg yolk, mix well with a wooden spoon, then reduce the heat and leave to gently cook for 5–10 minutes, giving it a stir every now and then.

Add a generous pinch of salt to the boiling water, and, when it begins to gallop, add the spaghetti and cook until al dente according to the packet instructions. Finely slice one-third of a lemon.

When the pasta is cooked, drain in a colander, reserving a little of the cooking water (roughly 1⁄4 cup). Squeeze the juice of the remaining lemons into the sauce, add salt and pepper to taste, then toss the pasta into the frying pan. Add the reserved cooking water, throw in the lemon slices and toss everything together so the pasta is well covered with sauce. Tear up the thyme sprigs, sprinkle generously over and serve immediately.

table for friends by Skye McAlpine

Thank you, Skye!

P.S. The best lemon cake you’ll ever have, and an easy conversation starter.

(Photos from A Table for Friends by Skye McAlpine.)