Our garden in Venice is filled with lemon trees. It’s a small garden – more of a courtyard, really, than a garden proper; but it is filled with leafy lemon trees in large terracotta pots. Year after year, round about this time, the trees begin to bear fruit: beautiful, eccentrically shaped citrus that somehow doesn’t look like the kind of lemons you buy in the shops. And it is round about now, as the fruit starts sprouting on the trees, that I know Summer is firmly on its way.
Lemons are possibly one of the most versatile fruits. It’s the kind of fruit you eat with everything: a squeeze over grilled fish, another squeeze in a sharp salad dressing; made into granita, limoncello, sorbet, or whipped up into extravagant concoctions like lemon posset or lemon meringue pie. In this dish, lemon is the star: it’s a subtle, delicate flavour that somehow elevates this otherwise plain pasta into the realms of a sophisticated, summertime dinner affair.
Tagliolini al Limone e Timo
(Tagliolini with Lemon, Cream and Thyme Sauce)
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
4 tbsps olive oil
220ml single cream
1 gee yolk
small bunch of fresh thyme
Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Meanwhile, zest two of the lemons and toss the zest into a frying pan, then add the olive oil and set over a medium heat. Gently fry the zest for a few minutes until it begins to take on a deep, vibrant yellow colour. Now pour in the cream and the egg yolk, mix well with a wooden spoon, then lower the heat and leave to gently cook for 5-10mins, giving the sauce a stir every now and then. Add some salt to the water, and when it begins to gallop, add the tagliatelle and cook as per the instructions on the packet. Finely slice the third lemon ready to add to the pasta – half or a third should be enough, but add more to taste.
When the pasta is cooked, drain in a colander, taking care to reserve a little of the cooking water (roughly 1/4 cup). Squeeze the juice of two lemons into the sauce, add salt and pepper to taste, then toss the pasta into the saucepan. Add the cooking water, throw in the slices of lemon, and toss everything together so the pasta is well covered with sauce. Tear up the sprigs of thymes and sprinkle generously over the pasta.