At Home, Sick / Spaghetti with Pine Nuts and Gremolata

What a waste of time! Have been in bed since Sunday. Big L has been a doll, bringing me tea, and meals on a tray. Feeling much better, and using my reentry to mostly clean up the kitchen.

Now it’s Saturday, and I’m finally finishing this post. Being up and busy for 3 hours still sends me tottering back to my cozy bed. Will I ever make it back to the office at this rate?

The other day I riffed on a recipe I had read days ago on smittenkitchen. Thanks Deb, for the continual inspiration! (I’m dying to make spaetzle now, but after reading that post, I don’t think I’ve got enough energy yet. Soon. Hopefully before our delicious homemade chicken broth runs out. I’ll post about chicken broth sometime, too.)

I made my dish without looking at Deb’s recipe again, because I had taken my laptop upstairs to my bed days ago to keep me occupied/entertained/attempting to do some work, and left it there. I still haven’t gone back to see if I was anywhere close. But I was inspired! The  reason I decided to make this right then was the bag full of leftover cooked spaghetti in the refrigerator. We have had L’s mother Louise’s famous red sauce and meatballs for two or three nights already. Time for a change.

Here’s how a recipe comes together in my “test kitchen:”

Spaghetti with Pine Nuts and Gremolata

Oh no! The lone volunteer flat leaf parsley plant is already trying to bolt, AND also has a bad case of aphids—doesn’t it seem awfully early for that? I take what I can, cut off all the flowers, and hope it feels like coming back for one more round. Though I really should replant. Not much parsley. . .that’s ok, I’ll add some mint to the recipe.

Ugh, look at that mint. Slugs or snails (I only see the silver trails left behind) have been nibbling at the mint—and the cat food. Next, I apologize to the four little pots of two kinds of mint that I bought weeks ago, promising that I would plant them right away while they were gorgeous and healthy. They don’t look so good now, and one variety is worse off than the other. I always forget which is which, but I think I have spearmint, which is looking quite poorly, and peppermint—which looks better but its older leaves are turning dark brownish-red color. Can it have gotten too cold, here in SoCal in March/April? The old mint up in the window box on the front deck railing looks really puny too, with lots of old dead branches and more snail trails. Yuk.

I pinch off everything usable, avoiding anything with snail snot on it, and end up with about 1/3 – 1/2 cup. I wash it very well in a colander with the spray option of the kitchen faucet and lots of gentle rubbing. Dry with a dish towel and cut it up however coarsely or finely you with. Coarser is prettier, and faster!

My lemons feel wilt-y but at least they haven’t dried out. I zest one with the microplane (you know it works better when you put the microplane flat on the cutting board and move the lemon back and forth, right? All the zest is contained underneath until you are done), and cut it in half.

Next I used the garlic press on two cloves. I might have minced it for extra texture but I’m not sure how long my energy will last.

OK, ready to roll:

    • Pull pine nuts and organic bread crumbs out of the freezer. Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a small frying pan. You need enough to wet the crumbs but not so much that they are swimming in oil. Brown about 2 tablespoons bread crumbs and add 2 tablespoons of pine nuts once the crumbs are warmed up. Watch closely, because this can turn/burn rather suddenly.
    • In pan or pot large enough to hold the finished dish, add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Heat, and add the garlic and cook gently. Don’t let it brown, it will get bitter. When it’s cooked through, add the cooked spaghetti (it was about 3 servings’ worth and I could have used more than that) and let it heat through, stirring well. Squeeze 1/2 lemon over the top and stir some more.
    • Still too dry? I would add one of these, in this order of preference: some white wine, chicken broth, olive oil or I suppose you could use water. Truth be told, I think I used a little bit more olive oil, But only because it was sitting right there on the counter. And maybe I didn’t need to, I forget.
    • Now stir in the bread crumbs, pine nuts, parsley/mint, and the lemon zest. Stir it up, grind some pepper on it, a pinch of kosher salt to taste, and eat it quick while the crumbs are still crunchy!

Time for a satisfying bowlful, then a nap. I’ll clean up when my next burst of energy arrives.


reduced fat kerrygold butter, via

What do you think of this product? The article I read says there are no artificial ingredients, just their butter with less fat. If there are no chemical additives in it, I’m willing to try it out. It may not be out yet, but I’ll be watching.


Today we are delighted that our daughter in law is having her 35th birthday party here at the house. Every birthday is one worth celebrating, and that goes for all of us.

Too bad the house is not in great shape (that’s what company is good for, making me clean up my act!) and that Big L and I are both hacking and blowing our noses. We’ll probably just clean up a few more things and head over to the studio and take a nap. Keep our bugs to ourselves.

Happy Saturday!

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