Avocado and lemon zest spaghetti
The last few weeks have been a brilliant whirlwind. I’ve been at home surrounded by some of my greatest friends taking the pictures for my next book, which will be published on June 19th. It’s all taking shape and I am so excited for it to see the light of day.
The shoot days have been filled with food. Everyday we all sit down to an overly lavish lunch of all the things we’ve cooked so far that morning, and usually there is some left over which makes its way to neighbours and my Mum and Dad. I don’t think they’ve ever got over me leaving home and not cooking for them, so I have to send regular food packages (my Dad usually requests brownies.)
This week started more quietly. No one in the house, and gone are the cameras and endless piles of plates and linens and 3 course lunches. I’ve been craving something simple but hearty to see me though writing the final few recipes. This avocado spaghetti bridges the gap between seasons so perfectly. In London there is blue skies and sun one day and damp grey the next. The magazines are getting excited about spring and the daffodils are out, but I still can’t step outside without a scarf and a wooly hat. This hearty bowl of pasta helps level things out, clean, fresh zippy flavours and of course, some avocado for good measure.
Avocado and pasta may sound a pretty out there combination but it really really works, the buttery avocado clings to the pasta and the knife sharp lemon juice cuts though it all. I tend to use wholemeal spaghetti here, as it works really well with the avocado. Wholemeal spaghetti will soak up more oil than the other kinds, though, so you may need to add a trickle more at the end. Gluten free spaghetti would work well here too but do handle it more carefully as I find it break up easily.
Since avocado is the star of the show, accept nothing less than soft, yielding, ripe and perfect. Avocados are loaded with good fats and omega 3, like the stuff you find in olive oil, and an artillery of vitamins and minerals. I would struggle to eat without them.
I prefer to use the capers that come sitting in little jars of brine. I find the salt-crusted ones just too salty, even if they are washed. Use whichever you prefer but remember all capers are salty, so be sparing about adding more salt.
I often top this pasta with a poached egg, partly because it makes a more filling dinner but also because of the sunshine yellow sauce it makes for the pasta. Definitely try it.
Avocado and Lemon Zest Spaghetti
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
400g dried spaghetti of your choice (I use wholemeal, but rice, quinoa or normal spaghetti will work too)
4 tablespoons capers in brine, roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and very finely sliced
grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons, and juice of 1⁄2 a lemon
a bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked
a bunch of fresh parsley, leaves picked
2 ripe avocados
Fill a big pan with boiling water and add a good pinch of salt. Bring to a rolling boil, then add the pasta and cook for 8–10 minutes, or according to the instructions on the packet, until perfectly al dente.
Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan on a low heat, then add the capers and garlic and sizzle gently until the edge of the garlic starts to very slightly brown. Remove from the heat and add the lemon zest.
Chop the herbs and add them to the pan. Halve and destone the avocados, then use a knife to make criss-cross cuts through the flesh, chopping it inside the skin. Use a spoon to scoop out each half into the pan, and stir to mix all the flavours together.
Before you drain the pasta, carefully scoop out half a mugful of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and add it to the frying pan with a little of the cooking water and a good drizzle of olive oil. Taste and add salt, pepper and lemon juice as needed. Scoop the pasta into bowls and eat on your lap.
Recipe from A Modern Way to Eat, image Brian W Ferry.