Three tricks pasta and I’m pleased to announce that this is truly a pasta template, versatile as anything. I give you the pasta with lemon and any veg, plus Parmesan because pasta can’t be without it.
The tricks are really quite simple but the combination produces a devastatingly tasty dish, veggie or not, in just about the time that your pasta cooks, plus five minutes or so.
First: cook your veg together with the pasta, adjusting the cooking time according to the type of veg and desired cookedness. As illustrated below, asparagus cooks in no time at all (‘faster than asparagus cooking’ as Emperor Octavian August would say) so add it only for the last two or three minutes. Swap asparagus for broccoli, peas, sliced beans, cauliflower, green cabbage and whatever else you deem fit to be tossed with pasta, butter and Parmesan.
Second: melting lemon. I discovered it by accident, cooking salmon I believe, that lemon pieces thrown into hot butter will go WHOOSH!!! then melt beautifully and create devastatingly lovely sauce, very intense so sometimes half a lemon will do. The lemon needs to be rindless, pithless and segmented unless you’d rather spit out bits later. I’m explaining the how.
Third: that reserved cooking water from under the pasta is not a myth, it actually does make up nice sauce. You need to drain the pasta et al into a colander here, rather than fish it out with slotted spoon as I sometimes do, but make sure the first glug is decanted into a cup not the sink. It then goes into the butter-lemon-Parmesan concoction and hey presto! sauce.
So it’s all very simple really and devastatingly* rewarding. If you’re a belligerent non-veggie, fry up some pancetta, prosciutto or cut up sausages beforehand to toss in at the last moment.
*I know – I’ve been itching to use the word. A lot. But that’s it now, I promise.