Wednesday, 6 February 2013

a little sunshine

I am a West coast girl, born and raised.  Rainy weather is what I am used to, so much so that when it doesn't rain for a long time, I feel it in my bones.  Some people have said that it is my Welsh roots that need the cold and damp, others just think I'm nuts.  I do love cozy rainy days, sitting by the fire with a pot of soup on the stove and hot cup of tea on the table.  However, even this lover of all things coastal gets a bit tired of all the grey weather.  It can start to feel gloomy and dark.  It becomes more challenging to get outside and go for a walk, even though the forest is really beautiful this time of year in its sleepy manner.  I think this weather also challenges our moods.  Naturally winter is a time of hibernation, slowing down and rest.  Our modern world doesn't really allow for this anymore, as much as our bodies may still crave it and for many, these dark, gloomy days can make us feel a bit gloomy too.

These past couple of weeks have been a bit challenging for me.  I have been craving some new scenery, some sunshine and some warmth.  I used to travel when I was younger, before I had children and that wanderlust is still a part of me.  While heading off to Belgium for some good chocolate and great beer is not in the cards for me right now, I would at least be content with a day in Victoria eating at my favourite places and seeing the sea.  Alas, my life at home has kept me firmly planted, requiring me to practice patience and truly embrace what is, in this slow life that I have chosen.  Simplicity is funny that way, it isn't always as shiny and romantic as the magazines would have us believe, it is a daily practice that sometimes, like any practice, is not always fun.  I can get grumpy, irritated and restless.  It is not always easy or desirable to remind myself to breathe and just be in the Now, but I am working on it.

When things feel as they have lately, I need a little sunshine in whatever way I can get it.  Because I love to cook and I love food, I look to ingredients that feel like sunshine.  Things like fresh oranges, lemons, parsley, good olive oil, foods that are bright and uplifting.  And of course, when I am feeling gloomy and restless, I don't want anything that is complicated or going to take too much time, especially during the day when I am on my own.  So the other day I made this, one of my most favourite ways to eat pasta.  It is fresh, bright, super healthy and takes as long to make as it does for the pasta to cook.  I once read that olive oil, parsley and lemons were the holy trinity of Mediterranean food.  There is so much goodness in there that you can't help feeling a little brighter after eating it.  So, if the sun doesn't want to make it's face shown outside, try making this for supper tonight and bring it into your kitchen, even your kids will love it, mine ask for this all the time.

Spaghetti Al Limone
Spaghetti in a Lemon Sauce
Adapted From David Rocco's Dolce Vita

1 lb (500 g) Spaghetti
1 clove garlic
2 lemons
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parimgiano-Reggiano cheese, plus extra for sprinkling 
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon

First get your water on to boil, making sure to salt it. Once it is at a rolling boil, add your pasta.

Now, while this is happening, get yourself a nice big bowl, one that can take the pasta once it is cooked.  Cut the garlic clove in half and rub it all around the inside of the bowl.  This will give your pasta a nice delicate garlic flavour without having to bite into raw garlic. Next get your lemons out.  I recommend getting organic ones since you are going to use the skins.  Make sure they are regular lemons, not Meyer lemons, those are too sweet for this dish.

Zest your one lemon, if you like it really lemony, zest both lemons. I use a box grater so that I can also grate my Parmesan right into it.  Now, when I say Parmesean, I am not talking about the stuff in a can.  I'm not really sure what that stuff is, but it bears no resemblance to good Parmiganio-Reggiano.  The one I recommend is a little more expensive, but well worth the money, please don't skimp here.  You can save the rinds and use them later in roast potatoes or even as a flavouring for soup, don't throw them away! Grate your Parmigiano also and put everything to the side.

Juice your lemons into your bowl.  Now add your olive oil slowly with the lemon juice and whisk until it emulsifies, meaning they come together and start to look a bit creamy. Next add your Parmigiano-Reggiano with the lemon zest, a bit of salt and pepper and then your chopped parsley. Give it a good mix until it all comes together waiting for the pasta to join it.

Once your pasta is cooked drain it, don't rinse it and add it straightaway to the bowl with your lovely lemon and oil sauce.  Give it a good stir around, coating the hot pasta and then taste it.  Add a bit more grated cheese if you like or even a bit more pepper if you prefer, this is your dish after all, make it yummy for you.

Serve immediately and smile, there is a little sunshine in your bowl.

Note: This is wonderful as a side dish with fish; salmon or prawns makes a beautiful meal.  I however love it just on its own.

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