Lemon Myrtle Spaghetti – Aglio e Olio
I’ve been reading lots of fantastically candid posts lately about food, life and finding it hard to be healthy. As such, I was initially inspired to write all about how completing this recipe and post made me angry (it did), primarily because making pasta by hand is a tedious and laborious job (it is – instead we should be doing this), because making spaghetti look good is impossible (tips welcome) and because taking photos of spaghetti that looks substandard is really really upsetting (I still can’t talk about it *sniff*). Instead I am going to go with my gut and write the rest of this post keeping in mind the feeling I had once I was finished. There is nothing like a plate of pasta to make you feel better again.
So here goes.
Almost every day I thank God I married an Italian. Don’t get me wrong, I love Dario infinitely for who he is however call me crazy, but I just can’t see our marriage being quite as special if his heritage was associated with any other cuisine. I’d like to say I was joking but I really, really love Italian food….oh and you too Dario.
The thing that I love most about Italian cuisine is its ability to take the simplest ingredients and make them into something so incredibly delicious without mucking around too much. My favourite example of this has to be the dish below.
So do yourself a huge favour one weekend. Ignore the first five lines of this post. Then, if you don’t have one, borrow someone’s pasta maker and make this dish from scratch. Use the best olive oil and salt you can find, the freshest chillies, garlic, parsley and parmesan your budget allows and follow this recipe. Share it with some close friends and then tell me I’m crazy for loving an Italian and his food.
Ps. If there is a little one in the household (and you aren’t ready to give them chilli and salt), reserve some of the pasta for the next meal and cook according to the directions below and mix it with some sautéed red onion, mushroom, parsley and parmesan.
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
2 cups wholemeal spelt flour
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3-4 tsp dried lemon myrtle leaves*
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 small red chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
parmesan to serve
*The Lemon Myrtle plant (Backhousia citriodora) is native to Australia. It has a distinctly herby, lemon flavour which lends itself beautifully to this simple pasta dish. If you can’t access it there are many other options you could use to flavour pasta – porcini mushrooms, lemon zest or spinach are delicious or just keep it plain.
Unfortunately Lemon Myrtle it isn’t as easy to find as it should be given its widespread usage by Australian indigenous populations through history however I found it at The Essential Ingredient and I am happy to say we now have it in our pantry.
Grind the lemon myrtle in a mortar and pestle to as close to a powder as you can get it, set aside.
I had begun to write out the instructions on making pasta when I came across this. It is a great step by step outline so I suggest you follow it if you have never made pasta before.
If you can’t access a pasta maker, you can roll it out with a rolling pin and cut it as outlined in Step 6 of the link above however a pasta maker makes the job a lot easier. For the lemon myrtle version, use the ingredients listed at the beginning of this post. In step one of the Basic Pasta Recipe, combine the eggs, oil and lemon myrtle in a bowl before you pour it into the flour, knead for 10 minutes and then rest it for another 15 minutes.
I use a clean clothes rack to dry my pasta – it dries it quickly and is easy to collect once it is done. You don’t have to dry the pasta, just cook it for less time. I find it has a better texture when cooked if it is left to dry for at least an hour or two.
When the pasta is made and you are ready to eat, cook it in a pot of boiling water for 3-4 minutes being careful not to overcook it. Drain and rinse. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large fry pan over a medium heat and add the chilli and salt and fry until the chilli starts to change colour (about one minute). Add the garlic and cook until it begins to turn golden (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat and add the pasta bit by bit to coat each strand then mix through the chopped parsley. Serve immediately with fresh parmesan.