Perfect Pairing: Cream and Citrus (Pasta Recipe)

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Fresh spring produce is popping up all over in farmer’s markets, and it makes me giddy to see so many culinary newcomers arriving! Last weekend, we treated ourselves to feathery fresh dill, mild mache greens, plump marigold-yellow Meyer lemons, and velvety clusters of gourmet mushrooms.

I have to say, they contributed to an amazingly elegant and sublime meal. It’s amazing what working with high-quality ingredients will yield. The main dish was a creamy citrus pasta, fragrant with lemon and dill, and rich with freshly-shaved Parmiggiano-Reggiano. The mushrooms were roasted until crisp-tender and layered atop a springy bed of mache drizzled with a sweet balsamic glaze.

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Utter perfection. (The blissful sounds we made while inhaling it was testament. It vanished in an instant…!)

Pasta with Meyer Lemon Cream adapted from Jean-George Vongerichten’s Home Cooking with Jean-George: My Favorite Simple Recipes

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 8 oz fresh or dried pasta (I used penne)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 C heavy cream
  • Grated zest of 2 Meyer lemons
  • 2 T fresh Meyer lemon juice
  • 4-5 individual fresh dill fronds, very coarsely chopped (about 4 T of chopped dill)
  • 1-2 oz. block of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Coarsely ground black pepper

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[From top to bottom: heavy cream, lemon juice, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, lemon zest]
Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and salt generously (it should taste like sea water). Cook the pasta to an al dente (chewy) texture, according to the package directions. This will be 1-2 minutes less than the indicated full cooking time. Drain the pasta well.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, whisk together the cream, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt. Pour 1 cup of the mixture into a deep skillet or pot. Boil rapidly, stirring continuously (watch that the cream does not overflow the pot, as boiling cream can bubble up quickly!) until reduced by half, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add the drained pasta to the lemon cream. Reduce the heat to low and toss until well coated. Add the remaining cream mixture, lemon juice, 3 T of dill, and continue tossing until well coated.
  4. Divide the pasta equally among serving dishes. Grate the cheese directly over the pasta, forming a mound. Garnish with the remainder of dill. Grind pepper over (as desired) and serve.

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Roasted Mushrooms

Ingredients

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[These yellow oyster mushrooms are gorgeous!]
Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Break the mushrooms into plum-sized clusters (if needed). Drizzle oil over all the mushrooms and toss to coat. Spread mushrooms in a single layer onto a baking sheet. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast until the mushroom edges are browned and crispy and the overall texture is tender, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately (I think a bed of salad with a bright, sweet-tart vinaigrette is a perfect foil to the juicy, meaty mushrooms).

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[Unfortunately, roasting took away the yellow; cooked, they're not so photogenic, but they smelled heavenly!]
The two dishes together was an incredible pairing. The creamy, cheesy nature of the pasta was comforting, yet elegant from the lemon and dill. In contrast to the rich creaminess, the salad was light but lively with the balsamic glaze, and fortified by the mushrooms.

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This gourmet meal might be more suited for weekend prep than a busy weeknight, but I think it’s totally worthwhile to make at least once to treat yourself. It’s gourmet comfort food with a sophisticated spin. Can’t go wrong with that! :9

xoxo,
lauriel

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  • http://moderngirlblog.com yvonne

    this looks delicious! i love pasta and mushroom!!!

    modern.girl

    • http://www.EyeForElegance.com lauriel

      :) thanks! me too, I love pasta (and basically all carbs…) :X

  • Shirley

    Oh my! This meal looks so delicious. What could I use in place of the cream?

    • http://www.EyeForElegance.com lauriel

      Hi Shirley! I think that you could substitute whole milk for the cream (or I might do a mixture of 1/3 part heavy cream and 2/3 part whole or reduced-fat milk).

      When substituting in milk, since the resulting mixture would be thinner than an all-cream sauce, I’d suggest the following: Once the milk has reduced by half, add a few tablespoons of greek yogurt (I love Fage or Fage 2%) to add some body and thickness to the sauce. The tangy yogurt flavor should actually go pretty well with the lemon… :)

  • Peter

    I have some meyer lemons someone just gave me.. I think I know what I’ll make… and the lemon doesn’t break/curdle the cream?

    • http://www.EyeForElegance.com lauriel

      Nice! If you have more lemons you need to find a use for, the lemon bar recipe I posted around the holidays is awesome too (is more elaborate than your typical lemon bar recipe in that there’s a lemon-cream cheese layer between the lemon curd and crust layers). :9

      Yeah, good point, I was a little worried about curdling as well. I think that there might be the risk of curdling if you combined the juice directly with the entire cream sauce, but since it’s added at the end (I actually added it at the *very* end, after pouring in and mixing the second portion of the cream sauce), the dish is mostly solids, so there’s not much liquid to react with. (so there very well might be some slight curdling going on, but it’s unnoticeable in the overall dish) :)

      • PeterLau

        I should do some research…
        I used to make a lemon cream/caper pasta sauce.. and would notice it would break occasionally.. I’m sure there’s a whey to do it.. omg.. get it.. whey? oh, I slay myself .. ;)

  • Lily Woo

    Ohh this look delicious – might need to try to make it soon. Thanks for sharing! Um, can Sean & I just invite ourselves over to your place for dinner one day? LOL

    • http://www.EyeForElegance.com lauriel

      You should totally get Sean to make this for you! ;) (especially since he seems pretty talented, culinary-wise) Haha, come on over! Seriously, we should cook/eat together sometime – I’m thinking a Hawaiian-themed get-together as soon as SF wknd weather hits the 70s…