Naked is fun. Freeing. Liberating.
Not naked as in changing at the gym in front of sweaty strangers, or drearily stripping off pjs before your morning shower. I mean naked as in pure, clean, unadulterated.
Think of confidently leaving your home without make-up, or sliding into a hot tub on a weekend getaway. The feel of sand when walking barefoot on the beach. The touch of a soft blanket on a chilly night. And of course, the euphoria of nakedness with the person you love.
Food is just as beautiful as we are when its naked. A fiery red tomato plucked from the vine or the first slice from an aged wheel of cheese. How often do we stop to appreciate our food before flavoring it with herbs, quickly sautéing it, or roasting it in a hot oven?
Fresh pasta especially doesn’t get the attention it deserves before going for a dunk in a pool of sauce. I’m not sure why, when the subtleties of homemade pasta made with organic flour and local eggs is as comforting and soothing as a hot candlelit bubble bath. Add things like roasted peppers, tomatoes or squid ink to the dough and you’ll need little more than olive oil and sea salt to create a beautiful meal.
These noodles have juice from Meyer lemons and spicy chili flakes ground from heirloom Rancho Gordo chilies. Instead of straining, I gently lifted them with tongs from boiling water so they would hold some residue moisture, and then tossed them with local oil and flaky fleur de sel. That’s it. As I slid the noodles into my mouth, the mild zest from the lemons was followed by a peppery burn at the back of my throat – but it was swiftly quelled by the softness from fresh olive oil. No cheese, no meat, not even a vegetable could possibly make this dish more enjoyable.
I’m sure you noticed I used Meyer lemon juice for the pasta, and maybe you’re wondering if it’s the same juice leftover from my local limoncello. It’s not. Claudia actually took all the leftover lemons and made pitchers full of fresh lemonade – a very worthy use for all of those naked lemons. I did get some fantastic suggestions from readers as to what to do with our lemon bounty, and I hope to make some of these before citrus season comes to an end:
Maria from Two Peas and their Pod submitted these beautiful Lemon Drop cookies.
Nanette from Gourmet Worrier has this incredible chocolate-lined lemon tart that I cannot wait to try.
Jenny from Nourished Kitchen, Ursula from Jane Spice and Winnie from Healthy Green Kitchen mentioned preserving the lemons, and I am definitely a sucker for chicken or fish cooked with the intensity of preserved citrus.
Leah from Wine Imbiber gave me a few great ideas – one in particular is for crema di limoncello, where you take the peels from the lemons after the limoncello is finished, boil them with milk and sugar, and mix it back in with the vodka. Find the full recipe here.
Only a few more weeks until the limoncello is ready to drink. In the meantime, free yourself with the smooth, silky feel of homemade naked pasta.
Meyer Lemon and Chili Pappardelle
1 cup organic flour
2 organic egg yolks
Juice from two Meyer lemons
1 tablespoon freshly ground red chili flakes (if you like spicy, add about ½ tablespoon more)
Drizzle of fresh extra virgin olive oil
Fleur de sel
In a small bowl, gently whisk together egg yolks, lemon juice and red pepper flakes.
Add flour to a large bowl and form it into a mountain. Make a well in the middle of the mound. Pour the egg mixture into the well, and slowly incorporate it into the flour with your hands. When it forms a mass, remove it from the bowl and onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for 10 full minutes. If it’s too dry, and a little more lemon juice.
Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Using a pasta machine, put the first piece through on the widest setting. Fold it into thirds, like an envelope, and put it through again on the same setting. If your dough starts to fall apart, add more lemon juice or water. If your dough sticks to your pasta machine, add a tad more flour.
Decrease the width on the machine by one and put the dough through again. Repeat through the second-to-last notch. Roll out each piece of dough the same way.
You should now have four long, thin pieces of dough. To make papperdalle, use a dough scraper to cut the noodles into strips that are one inch wide. They don’t have to be perfect – that’s the joy of cutting your own pasta.
Cook the noodles in salted boiling water for about 1 minute. Remove with tongs, and toss with olive oil and fleur de ser.