September 8, 2022

Recipe: Pici al limone with preserved lemon breadcrumbs

With lemons galore on trees all over SA, now is the time for this delicious pasta recipe.

Pici al limone with preserved lemon breadcrumbs
serves 4

70g butter
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
1 lemon, zest & juice
½ tsp cracked black pepper
30g grated pecorino
6 cups dark leafy greens (eg. broccoli rabe, silverbeet), roughly chopped
sea salt
1 tbsp olive oil

for pici
300g plain flour
150ml warm water
3 tbsp olive oil

for breadcrumbs
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs
2 tbsp oregano leaves, roughly chopped
2 tbsp preserved lemon rind, roughly chopped

for quick preserved lemon
4 lemons
⅓ cup sea salt
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp peppercorns

For preserved lemons, thinly slice 2 lemons and juice 2 lemons. Wash and dry a 500ml capacity jar with a wide opening. Sprinkle the base with salt and top with a single layer of lemon slices, a bay leaf and a few peppercorns. Continue layering, adding the second bay leaf near the end. Press down on the lemon slices to compress, pour over the lemon juice, pressing down to completely submerge the lemon slices. Cover and place in a cool, dark place for a week, checking periodically to ensure the lemons are submerged (adding extra lemon juice if necessary). The rind should be tender in a week. Store in the refrigerator. Preserved lemon will last several months.

For pici, place flour into a medium bowl. Make a well in the centre and add water and oil, gradually incorporating with a fork until a rough dough forms. Turn out onto the kitchen bench and knead for 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Wrap in clingfilm and allow to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the breadcrumbs. Heat a small frypan over medium heat, add olive oil, breadcrumbs and oregano. Saute until golden and toasted. Stir through preserved lemon. Set aside.

Without adding too much flour, roll the pasta dough into a 1cm thick rectangle on the kitchen bench and cut into 0.5cm strips. Roll each strip into long strands resembling spaghetti, placing on a floured tray to prevent sticking.

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to the boil. Melt butter in a large frypan over medium heat. Add garlic, lemon zest and pepper and saute for two minutes. Meanwhile, cook pici for 2-3 minutes, remove with a mesh strainer and add to the frypan with ½ cup of pasta cooking water. Add greens to the saucepan of boiling water. Toss the pasta until glossy and emulsified. Add grated pecorino and continue to toss, adding more pasta water if the sauce is too dry. Add lemon juice and season with salt. Strain greens into a colander in the kitchen sink.

Serve pasta immediately, topped with greens, drizzled with olive oil and scattered with the breadcrumb mix.


This recipe first appeared in the July 2022 issue of SALIFE magazine.




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