Meyer Lemon and Chili Pasta

Naked Pasta: Meyer Lemon and Chili Pappardelle

February 9, 2010 · 37 comments

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.

Limoncello at week 3

Meyer Lemon and Chili Pappardelle
Serves 2-3

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.

Where I shopped:
Meyer lemons: Lemon trees in my neighborhood
Rancho Gordo chilies: Ferry Building Farmers’ Market, San Francisco
Olive Oil: Pedroncelli Winery, Sonoma

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{ 8 trackbacks }

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria February 9, 2010 at 1:05 pm

I am loving this naked pasta. Beautiful dish. And thanks for the lemon shout out:) I just wish I had your lemon problem.

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Woman with a Whisk February 9, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Beautiful pasta! Love the idea of chili and meyer lemons. And I totally agree — nothing’s better than unadulterated fresh pasta.

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Lindzee February 9, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Beautiful photos and fantastic sounding recipe! I am going to try this tomorrow. I stumbled upon your blog and fell in love. Thank you for the wonderful recipes. I can’t wait to try them all!

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Jennifer Hess February 9, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Wow, lady. Amazing. And I happen to have RG chiles, some Meyer lemons, and a batch of super fresh farm eggs on hand – plus a possible snow day tomorrow!

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hannah February 9, 2010 at 6:34 pm

This looks so good! And those colors are absolutely beautiful.

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heather @ chiknpastry February 9, 2010 at 7:07 pm

that pasta looks great – i’ve never used meyer lemon in pasta dough but definitely something i’ll try :)

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NY Kru February 9, 2010 at 8:42 pm

That pasta looks like the perfect dinner party dish for my two friends coming in from Cali. I just hope it comes out as good as it looks in your pic.

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J2Kfm (Malaysian Food Blog) February 9, 2010 at 11:21 pm

Come to think of it, the closest I’ve came across naked pasta is the Aglio Olio style. Not that stripped bare, but with minuscule amount of sauces.

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Koek! February 9, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Lady, you have got food porn down to a fine art! The limoncello, that pasta… OMG.

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Winnie February 10, 2010 at 9:25 am

I looooove fresh pasta and this sounds/looks just simply amazing.
Looks like you’re continuing to put the lemons to good use!.
I’m so excited because I have a box of Meyers coming to me through a contest on Wine Imbiber…I’ll be looking at everything everyone suggested for you and I’ll have to make this pasta.

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The Food Hunter February 10, 2010 at 10:27 am

This is heaven on a plate.

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nina February 10, 2010 at 11:28 am

Simple flavors yet the result is truly delectable. I love the simplicity of this!!!

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Jen February 10, 2010 at 12:10 pm

This makes me want to run out and buy a pasta machine just to try this. Fresh pasta knocks dried pasta’s socks off anyday, but I can only imagine how incredible fresh pasta made with these flavors would be.

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Dana February 10, 2010 at 1:51 pm

I’m just a trip to Williams Sonoma away from buying a pasta attachment for my Kitchen Aid. Then will you give me lessons? One of my solo dinners is to just boil up some good fried pasta and eat it with a little olive oil and a tiny bit of Parmesan. I love the flavor of pasta and with homemade, I’m sure you wouldn’t need the cheese at all.

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Angela@spinachtiger February 10, 2010 at 4:40 pm

I just couldn’t agree with you more. I truly believe that pasta deserves to be the star in many meals just as a good piece of bread, and not just a supporting role.

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Kasey February 10, 2010 at 5:27 pm

I always prefer my pasta too be vibrant, and not sogged down with a heavy sauce..Esp, if you have good pasta! This looks divine.

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my spatula February 10, 2010 at 11:05 pm

i’m loving your naked pasta. the chilies take it over the top.

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SippitySup February 12, 2010 at 9:39 am

This is beautiful to look at so well said too! I made preserved lemons (well started the process at least) I had every intention of send the post your way… Oh well. GREG

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Charles G Thompson February 12, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Lovely post and a good reminder that simpler (naked!) can sometimes be better!

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Jeff February 12, 2010 at 9:50 pm

that looks amazing and simple. will try asap. thanks!

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Erica February 14, 2010 at 3:24 pm

What a simple, but delicious dish!!!! Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Alejandro :)

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Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen February 15, 2010 at 10:37 am

Great post! That pasta is just gorgeous!

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Jeff Clark February 15, 2010 at 8:46 pm

With some Meyer lemons and peppers on hand, your naked pasta was a perfect accompaniment to a lemon rosemary roasted chicken. You got me thinking now what other liquid and spice combination will create a tasty pasta.

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Chris February 17, 2010 at 10:33 am

Love it!!

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Katie February 28, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Absolutely gorgeous! I haven’t experimented with flavoring my pasta yet, but the combo of lemon + chili is a favorite when I’m dressing plain pasta…I usually toss it w/ lemon zest, a spritz of juice, and some of my dad’s homegrown dried chili flakes. Oh, and plenty of salt…Never thought of kneading those very flavors into the pasta itself. Well done! Lovely.

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Alexandra March 8, 2010 at 8:37 am

Amazing how something so simple can be so delicious.

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Bethany (Dirty Kitchen Secrets) March 16, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Stunning photography! Yes you are absolutely right- real, naked food is where it’s at!

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