You’ll hear the “simple is better” mantra used by chefs all over Italy, and Peppe Guida of Antica Osteria Nonna Rosa in Sorrento is no exception. One of his best known dishes, spaghettini con aqua di limone, takes basic ingredients–pasta, cheese, and lemons–and transforms them into something sublime. The secret: infusing some of the cooking water with lemon peels the night before.
- 3 whole medium lemons, scrubbed
- 1 lb. thin spaghetti
- Kosher salt
- 1⁄2 cup grated provolone
- 1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to remove the peels from the lemons and reserve (save the fruit for another use). In a large, high-sided skillet, combine the peels and 2 cups of water. Bring to a low simmer, then turn off the heat and let soak for 12 hours.
- Bring a large pot of salted boiling water to a boil. Add the thin spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is flexible but still somewhat crunchy at the center, 4-5 minutes. Drain the pasta, rinse under cold running water, and set aside.
- Remove the lemon peels from the skillet and transfer the infused water to a large, high-sided skillet; bring to a boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti and allow to finish cooking to al dente, tossing constantly with tongs, 5-6 minutes. (The lemon water should be mostly or fully absorbed.)
- Transfer the spaghetti to a large bowl, toss with the provolone, olive oil, and pepper, and serve immediately.