July 9, 2013
It's so hot tonight, and a friend just walked in with some green garlic she pulled from her garden. I love green garlic, love it's sweet, slightly sticky nature. Looking at the beautiful bulbs with their faint lavender hue, I suddenly remember that I have a small stash of wax-wrapped bottarga (dried mullet roe) hidden in the refrigerator.
And suddenly the perfect meal materializes.
Bottarga is a bit like uni, a rich burnt-orange roe with a seductive texture. But where uni is soft as custard, bottarga has a dense, chewy intensity. Shave it into little curls and it has one texture; grate it into crumbs it has another. So why not both?
Spaghetti with Bottarga and Bread Crumbs
Boil a large pot of water for pasta.
While a pound of pasta cooks, gently saute a couple cloves of thinly sliced garlic and a fat pinch of crushed red peppers in about a half cup of good olive oil just until it becomes fragrant.
Take as much bottarga as you can afford (classic recipes call for 6 ounces for a pound of spaghetti, but bottarga’s so expensive, and so powerful, I tend to use about half that much) and shave half of it into thin, delicate curls. Grate the rest.
When the pasta is just al dente, drain and toss it with the olive oil mixture and some finely chopped Italian parsley. Toss in the bottarga, along with the zest of one lemon and a good handful of homemade bread crumbs and serve.
This is rich; it will serve, 6 as a smaller first course.
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