The Osteria Morini Pasta al Limone, with its bright lemon-forward flavors, is a perfect light pasta for late summer.
This dish originates in southern Italy, specifically in the Sorrentino peninsula where lemons are prized, and traditionally uses spaghetti, but any shape can be selected.
Some pro tips: This pasta is usually made with cream and with the technique of a cacio e pepe (“cheese and pepper”) style pasta, but we use pasta water with cheese to make the sauce, which keeps the dish on the lighter side. Be sure to keep your pasta water on hand as you build the dish.
16 oz spaghetti (cook a little under the cooking instructions)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves thinly sliced garlic
1 lemon (zest and juice)
1 tsp picked thyme
1/4 c plus pasta water
1/3 c grated pecorino
2 tbsp butter
Fresh cracked black pepper
8 oz Maryland jumbo lump crab meat (optional)
1/4 c diced zucchini (blanched)
Salt, to taste
2 tbsp toasted breadcrumbs (optional)
Season pasta water with salt and cook pasta or undercook by 2 to 3 minutes per cooking instructions.
In a large sauté pan set on low, heat olive oil and add garlic until slightly cooked and fragrant (do not brown).
Add zest, lemon juice and thyme. Transfer pasta with cooking liquid. The starch in the liquid combined with the movement of the pan will start to create the sauce. (If it is dry, add more cooking liquid. If you add too much, it will eventually reduce.)
Add cheese and butter, while keeping the pan moving. Crack fresh pepper and fold in jumbo crab meat and zucchini. Salt to taste.
Divide pasta among bowls. Top with toasted breadcrumbs.
Add extra zest on top if desired.
View the menu at OsteriaMorini.com.
Bill Dorrler is the executive corporate chef at Altamarea Group and Jonathan Rice is executive chef of Osteria Morini in Bernardsville.