Bacon and lemon is a combination that just shouldn’t work, but like bacon and so many things, it somehow just does. The salty sour hit you get from this delicious dish is balanced by the sweetness of the peas and the creamy taste and texture of the Parmesan cheese. It is positively addictive.
It was Gwyneth Paltrow’s Spaghetti Limone Parmeggiano from ’My Father’s Daughter‘ that inspired me to make this dish. I’ve made it exactly as she wrote it in the past and it is lovely, but this time I changed some of the proportions of the ingredients as well as adding some extras of my own. You see, my husband and I had just returned tired and hungry from a trip. I had pancetta in the fridge that I wanted to use up (bacon would work equally well) but vegetables were a bit thin on the ground so I turned to my stash of peas in the freezer. It’s pretty rare for me to take a perfectly good vegetarian recipe and add meat to it, but on this occasion, I’m very glad I did. I used Fusilli Lunghi, a lovely curly spaghetti-like pasta, to make this dish look a little bit special, but ordinary spaghetti or linguini works perfectly well.
The recipe is the work of moments to make. In less than half an hour I had all this on the table and we were sitting in the garden enjoying a our dinner with a glass of wine on a warm summer evening.
Although Spaghetti Limone Parmeggiano isn’t one of them, you can find lots of the recipes from ‘My Father’s Daughter’ on Gwyneth’s website. Having said that, ‘My Father’s Daughter’ is well worth adding to any cookbook collection. And whether you make Gwyneth’s version or mine, please do try this recipe. You will be very glad you did!
- 1 teaspoon + 1 tablespoon mild olive oil
- 2 leeks, cleaned and finely sliced
- ½ cup chopped pancetta or 6 slices bacon, chopped
- 6 ounces spaghetti
- juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
- ½ cup grated Parmeggiano Reggiano or Parmesan cheese
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 to 3 tablespoons pasta water
- ½ cup frozen peas
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh or dried chives
- Heat the teaspoon of oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
- Fry the sliced leeks until they just begin to soften.
- Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta is cooked and a bit on the crispy side. Set aside to keep warm.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to the package directions.
- Mix the lemon juice, lemon rind, Parmesan cheese, pepper and olive oil together in a small bowl.
- Add a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water to the lemon mixture and mix thoroughly.
- When the pasta is three minutes away from being cooked, toss in the peas. Cook with the pasta until it is done.
- Set aside another tablespoon or so of the pasta water and then drain the pasta and peas thoroughly. Return to the saucepan you cooked them in.
- Stir the pancetta into the pasta and peas along with the lemony cheese sauce mixture. Toss to coat all the pasta with the sauce. If it seems a little dry add another tablespoon or so of the pasta water.
- Serve the pasta garnished with the chives.