Thursday, December 30, 2010

Limoncello Pasta

My husband and I spent a wonderful week in Rome about a month ago and I'm still dreaming about the incredible Lemon Pasta we had at La Sacarestia near the Pantheon (twice). Yesterday, I was thumbing through a fun Trader Joe's cookbook I received for Christmas from my sister and was intrigued by one of the recipes. It was pasta topped with a lemon-vodka sauce, which sounded like it might be similar. The only problem was that it called for an entire container of mascarpone cheese as a base for the sauce! Knowing it would be too high in saturated fat, I began thinking of a way to lighten the dish. I happen to have a bottle of limoncello liqueur in the fridge and thought it might boost the lemon flavor, as well. To make a long story short, let me just say that I may have found the perfect combination of ingredients and portion size that will allow me to feast on my Roman Lemon Pasta more often! It goes very well with simple, grilled chicken breasts or tenders. A side of sauted spinach completed this healthy, quick and delicious meal.

Limoncello Pasta
(Makes 4 side-dish servings)

4 oz. dry angel hair pasta (I used Dreamfield's)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1½ tablespoon all-purpose flour
2/3 cup chicken stock, warmed in microwave
Zest from one lemon
Juice from one lemon
1½ tablespoons limoncello liqueur
¼ cup mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Prepare the pasta according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour, whisk and cook for about 45 seconds. Slowly add the warmed chicken stock while whisking constantly. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until thickened. Add the lemon zest, juice, limoncello, mascarpone cheese, basil, salt and pepper. Stir until cheese has melted and mixture is smooth.

3. Drain pasta and toss with lemon sauce. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information per serving: 203.2 calories, 25 g carbohydrate, 9.5 g total fat, 5.2 g saturated fat, 77.4 mg sodium, 2.7 g fiber, 4.9 g protein.

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2010

Added 1/10/11:
I wanted to make this dish for an Italian Potluck reunion of my Rome traveling friends. To make this dish for a crowd and more portable, I first chose to use penne pasta instead of angel hair. I tripled the recipe, boiled the pasta for only 5 minutes, combined it with the sauce and poured it into a 13"x9" casserole dish. I topped it with a mixture of ½ cup breadcrumbs mixed with lemon pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil. I baked it in a 400-degree oven for about 25 minutes. This variation makes 12 side dish portions.

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