In an effort to keep learning and stay fresh with all things culinary, I’ve been trying out recipes from Gwyneth Paltrow’s semi-new cookbook, My Father’s Daughter. Gwyneth’s become something of a self-taught chef over the years, learning from her parents, her Spanish “mama” (she studied abroad there as a youngster), and her own explorations of good, healthful food. Many of the recipes are vegetarian or vegan, but others are comfortably adapted to a more traditional diet. (Though she does use duck bacon, which I’ve never tried … any of you?)
[And yes, by using her first name, I can pretend we’re friends. I’m also babysitting Moses and Apple after school next week while Gwynnie’s at a bikram yoga class. Tee hee. In my defense, I saw her at a movie premiere in London once! Check out my not-so-clear shot below.]
While the book is filled with fun and healthy recipes, my FAVORITE is her Spaghetti Limone Parmeggiano. It’s simple, elegant, and oh-so delicious. For those of us in the “learning” process of cooking, this is an easy recipe to master.
Note: All credit here goes to Ms. Paltrow, her book and her impeccable taste. I’ve tried to rewrite the directions in my own words, but the method is the same. If I’ve changed anything ingredients-wise, it’s noted in parentheses below.
Spaghetti Limone Parmeggiano – serves 4
- 1 lb spaghetti (Up from Gwyneth’s ¾ lb; I’ve also used shells, penne or other types of pasta)
- Coarse salt
- 1 lemon
- 1 ½ cups grated Parmesan cheese (or a mixture of Parmesan and Romano; that extra bite is nice!)
- ½ tsp black pepper
- A pinch of salt
- 2 ½ tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 3-5 tbsp pasta water (easily eyeballed)
- A handful of fresh basil leaves (or 1-2 tsp dried, crushed to release essential oils)
Here’s what you do:
- Fill a pasta pot with water, and heat on high until boiling. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, grate the lemon zest into a serving bowl. Then, cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the same bowl. Add your Parmesan, pepper, and salt, mixing together with your olive oil to form something of a lemony “pesto.”
- When the spaghetti is cooked through, add some of the pasta water to your “sauce.” Add the pasta and toss thoroughly until everything is well-coated. If needed, add a bit more pasta water to keep things from getting too sticky. Tear your basil leaves by hand, stirring them into your pasta.
- As Gwyneth says, “serve each portion with a sprinkle of coarse salt, a fresh grind of black pepper, and a few gratings of extra Parmesan.”
So. Hilariously. Easy. And so, SO good. If you’re looking for some additional protein, this dish is delicious when served with grilled or sautéed chicken, particularly if said chicken has something of a lemon-based or Italian-style marinade. Add a green salad and some crusty bread, and you’re well on your way to being besties with Gwyneth – or, at least, imagining you are.
I also highly recommend My Father’s Daughter – I’m slowly cooking my way through (more recipes on the way), and it’s a great resource for all of us self-taught chefs. Enjoy!