Pasta al Limone con Gamberi

Pasta with Lemon & Shrimp: An Antonio Cortese Mystery Recipe

This is my first post in a long time. For those who don’t know, I have begun to write mystery-detective novels set in Italy. The protagonist is an Italian American, an ex-detective who now owns an Italian restaurant. He has a lot of family in Tuscany (where his mother comes from), so when he returns, a lot of cooking and eating takes place. People have started to ask me for the recipes of foods featured in the stories, so I decided to begin posting them here on my food blog.

Find out more about my novels at…

https://www.frankcurtiss.com/

This recipe is featured in my second novel, Missing in Firenze, of the Antonio Cortese Mystery series. In the novel, this dish is prepared by Antonio’s Zio (Uncle) Pasquale and Zia Frankie.

Pasquale and Frankie are the owners of a lovely little boutique hotel in Positano on the Amalfi Coast. This is a traditional recipe from that area, where lemon trees abound. It is often made without the addition any meat or seafood, but it is not uncommon for the locals to add seafood of some kind. Feel free to make it either way, or with any other seafood that appeals to you. Buon appetito!

As with any recipe I highly recommend you do your Mis en Place (French term for pre-prep, meaning Everything in Place) before you start the actually cooking.

You’ll be using every part of the lemons for this recipe. The lemons I used were very large, so I zested and juiced two instead of the three medium lemons called for in the recipe. After zesting and juicing, throw the lemon rinds in the pasta water.

Now it’s time to start cooking. This is just an overview. Check the recipe for the details. First, start your pasta water heating. Next, heat your butter and olive oil until it begins to shimmer. Add your shrimp and capers, cook some, then add your garlic. Next add the white wine.

I like to use a high-quality, grass-fed butter, such as Kerrygold.

It’s important not to overcook the shrimp or they will become rubbery. When they are ALMOST fully cooked turn off the heat.

Cook your pasta a little less than al dente (about 1 minute less than package instructions). Don’t forget to reserve some starchy pasta water before you drain your pasta! It is used to add viscosity and thicken your sauce. Combine it with your lemon juice mixture.

Now, turn the heat back on under shrimp. Add pasta. Pour the lemon juice mixture over the top and toss furiously. Cook one to two minutes until pasta is al dente and shrimp are properly cooked. Platter and garnish with Italian parsley.

Raise a glass and toast those whom God has given you to love. Buon appetito!

Wine Recommendation: This pasta would pair beautifully with a white wine from Campania, such as Fiano di Avellina. If you can’t find one, I suggest a good Pinot Grigio

5-6 servings:

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound pasta (spaghetti or linguine)

4 medium size lemons

Fresh ground black pepper—coarse ground

sea salt (or other high quality salt)

2 ounces butter (preferably grass fed)

2 ounces extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup capers (rinsed and drained)

3-4 cloves of garlic

3 ounces white wine

Italian parsley—chopped (for garnish)

12-16 ounces shrimp—peeled & deveined (and at least partially thawed if frozen)

PROCEDURE:

1. Cut one of the lemons into wedges and set aside.

2. Zest the remaining three lemons into a bowl.

3. Juice those same three lemons into the bowl with the lemon zest. Add lemon rinds to the pasta water.

4. Rinse and drain capers and set aside.

5. Slice garlic thin. Set aside.

6. Chop parsley and set aside.

7. Grind a generous amount of pepper into the lemon mixture. Add salt (start with 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon).

8. Begin to heat 4 quarts of water. When water begins to boil, add a tablespoon of salt.  

9. Add butter and oil to a skillet and heat over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer.

10. Add shrimp and capers. Sauté for about two minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another minute.

11. Add white wine and allow to simmer (watch out for flame-up!). Turn off heat when shrimp are almost fully cooked.

12. When water is boiling, cook pasta until nearly “al dente” (about one minute less than package instructions).

13. Before you drain the pasta, ladle 3-4 ounces of starchy pasta water into lemon mixture. Drain pasta.

14. Turn the heat back on under shrimp. Add pasta. Pour the lemon juice mixture over the top and toss furiously. Cook one to two minutes until pasta is al dente and shrimp are properly cooked.

15. Platter and garnish with Italian parsley.

16. Raise a glass and toast those whom God has given you to love.

Crema al Limone Gelato from Cinque Terre

I had to eat some before I took the photo… yum!

I have a rule when I go to Italy.  I eat gelato every day!  And if I miss a day I should have it twice the next.

I’ve had gelato all over Italy. But the best I ever had was discovered on the waterfront in the town of Monterosso al Mare in Cinque Terre in a shop called “Slurp… Gelato Artigianale”.  It was here and only here I found a flavor known as Crema al Limone made with the fresh local lemons and fresh cream. Other lemon gelatos I saw throughout Italy were not creamy but more like a sorbetto. This creamy version was so amazing I knew I had to learn how to make it and I nailed it on my first try!

 

 

The owner of the shop was super friendly.  I forgot to find out his name.  When I took his picture his friend had to get in it.

Owner of Slurp and his friend

The key to this gelato is the double whammy of freshly squeezed lemon juice (don’t use the bottled stuff!), and fresh lemon zest.  Feel free to sub some limoncello for some of the lemon juice for a different twist.

My beautiful wife and granddaughter

Gelato is not any more difficult than ice cream to make. First you make a custard with the dairy and egg yolks.  Then, once cooled you freeze it just like ice cream.  Ice cream makers mix in a little more air than is ideal for gelato.  If you want to make gelato all of the time you can buy a gelato maker but I find the results satisfactory with my ice cream maker.

I served this gelato at a dinner with some chef friends recently and everyone raved about it.  We had just finished a six course dinner so we were pretty full but this lemon gelato topped us off perfectly.

Train station in Monterosso

If you’ve never been to Cinque Terre this will give you one more reason to go.  But even if you can’t make the trip, this amazing gelato will transport you there.

Scroll down for the recipe or if you would like it in PDF format click here… Crema al Limone Recipe PDF

Buon appetito!

My version of Crema al Limone

The view from the tables across from Slurp

Homemade Limoncello… so easy… start a batch now for Spring!

I am taking a brief unplanned diversion from my pizza series (I’ll do my third pizza post next week).  I recently posted a couple of pictures on Facebook of me starting a batch of Limoncello.  I got so many people asking for the recipe that I thought I better post it to avoid a rebellion.  I also mentioned a couple of dessert (dolce!) recipes made from the Limoncello.  I will post those soon.

About Limoncello:

Limoncello is a lemon liqueur which is primarily produced in the southern coastal areas of Italy, such as the gulf of Naples and the Amalfi Coast.  It is made from fresh lemon peel, alcohol, water and sugar.  Traditionally it is served chilled (from the freezer) as an after dinner digestivo.

Limoncello is super easy to make; however it needs time to steep properly (weeks or even a month or two).  So start your batch soon so you can enjoy it when the weather warms up!

Recipes I’ve worked with vary widely in how long to steep the lemons in the alcohol, and then again after the simple syrup (of sugar and water) is added.  Essentially, the longer it steeps, the better it will be; yet you hit a point of diminishing return, where the differences are so subtle it is hard to even differentiate.  Here is a tip for you… if you want to speed up the process, you can always add more lemon peels than what the recipe calls for.  Just don’t go crazy or the lemon flavor might overwhelm.

What you will need:

In addition to the ingredients listed you will need a large glass jar, such as you would use to make sun tea. You will also need enough clear, sealable glass bottles to accommodate nearly 8 cups (about 1800 ml) of finished Limoncello. In my experience, World Market is a good place to find both the glass jar and the small bottles.  You will also need a veggie peeler (see note further down).

How to make it:

Unless you are using organic lemons, wash them with produce wash or soap to remove any residue of pesticides or wax.  Dry with a clean towel before proceeding.

The next step will be to remove the peel from the lemons in long strips using a vegetable peeler.  You want to avoid getting an excessive amount of the white pith, which will lend bitterness.  In the past I used an standard vegetable peeler and had a fair amount of the white pith, which I then tried to trim off with a pairing knife… a bit of a pain.  This time I used a Titan peeler (see photo left) and it was fabulous!  I was able to get clean strips of peel with almost no white pith!  So, I highly recommend buying one, though be careful, they are super sharp.  I cut my finger with it once so was a little intimidated.  But if you hold it properly and don’t peel toward your fingers, you’ll be fine.

 

After peeling the lemons, save what remains for another use (such as making fresh squeezed lemonade).

The next steps are to steep the lemon peels in alcohol and then later create a simple syrup which you combine with that, and then steep a bit longer.  I’ll refer you to the recipe for the rest of the information.  Be sure to read the Frankie’s Tips on page 2 of the recipe before proceeding.

Buon appetito!

Download PDF Recipe or Click on Recipe below