There I was, sitting at the handsome bar of Bar Stuzzichini, off Union Square in NYC, completely zoned out to all the pretty people around me drinking their sexy apertivi and buxom glasses of vino.
Plenty of time for all that revelry in a second. First, I had to deconstruct the sublime bowl of pasta in front of me, and memorize every flavor so I could attempt to recreate it at home. The object of my obsession was the brilliantly conceptualized Maccheroni alla Chitarra, strands of pasta coated in a pistachio and lemon cream sauce.
The thick sauce and homemade pasta was rich and comforting. It was creamy, but not too creamy, and there was no heaviness to it. The perfume of the lemon zest reminded me of Sicily. The pistachios added crunch, interest, and more visions of sultry Mediterranean nights. Topped with buttery parmigiano-reggiano, this was perfection sitting in front of me.
I had to have it. Not just for dinner on this particular evening, but to enjoy whenever I pleased, wherever I wandered to in life.
I’m not the greatest at creating recipes out of thin air, but if I do say so myself, this is pretty darn close to what I fell in love with that night at Bar Stuzzichini. Now if only I could summon those sexy apertivi to magically appear in my hand.
Pistachio Lemon Linguini
Inspiration from Bar Stuzzichini
Makes: 4-6 servings
1 pound linguini
1 cup finely chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons lemon zest (2 large lemons)
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup roughly chopped pistachios
1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
1. Cook pasta in well-salted water until al dente.
2. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in heavy saucepan over moderately low heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until softened. Add flour and whisk for about 3 minutes to make a roux. Add milk and stock in steady stream, whisking constantly until thick and smooth (10-15 min). Season with salt and pepper.
3. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve. Discard the solids.
4. Mix the sauce with the lemon zest, lemon juice, pistachios, and parmigiano.
5. Strain out the pasta and place into the sauce to coat. I like to fish out the pasta and drop into the sauce (rather than pouring the entire pot into a strainer in the sink), so that I retain some of the starchy pasta water which will help the sauce come together.
6. Garnish the dish with more shaved parmigiano.