Monday, December 10, 2012

Spaghetti with roasted lemon & garlic sauce

You know those crazy mornings? The ones so chaotic and rushed, that instead of pausing for a second to pour a glass of water and swallow your magnesium supplement, you stash the pill in your bra and hope you won’t forget about it?

Mornings like this are also the ones I’m most likely to be caught staring at someone’s crotch on the train. I’ll be innocently lost in a daydream, or wondering if I’ve got enough oregano for a dish that evening, and when I return to reality I realise my gaze has settled slap bang on the woman across from me’s expansive bosom, or a man’s pants seat.

Time sort of slows down as I realise what’s happened, and without thinking I instinctively (and unwisely) look up to see whether anyone has noticed — and usually everyone has, including the gaze-ee. There’s a moment when accusing eyes say to me, ‘I know what you were doing, you perv, and you know that I know.’

In my mind, I’m shouting, ‘No! It’s not what it looks like! I was thinking about spaghetti!’

This is all communicated Kabuki-style, like in those old Western films where the camera pans right up close to the gunslinger’s eyes.

Invariably I am defeated and misunderstood, and emerge from the train vowing never to let my mind — or eyes — wander again.

So I’m afraid you owe it to me to make this spaghetti with roasted lemon & garlic sauce, after all I’ve been through. Just this morning I came to after reliving each gloriously slurpy mouthful from the night before — with my eyes firmly glued to the crotch of the Colin Farrell lookalike next to me. I may have been drooling slightly.

My eyes rose up to meet his (cue rapid zoom-in and eyebrow flailing):

Him: I know what you were doing.

Me: I’m so sorry — I have a problem. It’s not my fault!

Him: It’s okay, I get that a lot. Besides, I was just staring at your boobs and wondering why you have three nipples.

Me: Uh... It’s a magnesium supplement. 

Him: …

Me: …

Him: Freak.

So you see, dear reader, you owe me.

Spaghetti with roasted lemon & garlic sauce
[Serves 2]
This sauce is stupidly simple, but it hinges on the kind of lemons you use: the glossy, thick-skinned one’s from the grocer won’t do — you need those puckered, easy peeling ones that look like deflated soccer balls. They’re much sweeter and the peel becomes much softer when cooked.

3 lemons
2 whole bulbs garlic
1 cup olive oil
Handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
250g spaghetti
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

1. Preheat the oven to 200 C. Chop off the tops of the garlic bulbs (this’ll make it easier to squeeze out the garlic once cooked) and wrap in tinfoil. Wrap each lemon in tinfoil as well and roast both the garlic bulbs and the lemons for about 40 minutes or until meltingly soft. Open the parcels and allow to cool slightly.
2. Chop the lemons in half and scrape away the insides (they’ll come away easily). Chop the peel and transfer to a bowl. Squeeze the roasted garlic out into the bowl (it should be lovely and squishy), and add the olive oil and plenty of sea salt (about a tablespoon). Wizz into a sauce with a handheld blender.
3. In the mean time, cook the spaghetti until al dente, then drain, reserving about a cup of the cooking water.
4. Return the spaghetti to the pot with the lemon-garlic sauce, the basil and the parmesan. Stir to coat, adding enough of the reserved cooking water to get it really slick and slurpy.
5. Transfer to bowls and serve with extra Parmesan.