Winter brings us the joy of citrus season. Here we make lemon the star of the dish by using its zest and juice. It is meant to be bright with acidity and salty with parmesan cheese, which is why the cream is so important to round everything out. This is an utterly delicious simple weeknight pasta. If you don't have fresh oregano, you can substitute fresh marjoram or rosemary – just be sure to use a lot less rosemary as it can be quite overpowering.
200g dried spaghetti
50g raw almonds
2 tsp olive oil
pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
8g oregano leaves (picked from the stem and roughly chopped)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
40g freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
salt and black pepper
1. Set a large pot of boiling salted water to boil. Toast the almonds on a tray in a 180C oven for 10 to 15 minutes until they are fragrant and turning golden. Allow them to cool, roughly chop, then set aside.
2. In a large saute pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, oregano leaves and chilli flakes (if using), along with the grated lemon zest (do this using a Microplane). Be careful not to scrape too deep – use the yellow zest and none of the underlying bitter white pith. Add a pinch of salt tand let the ingredients sizzle for about 30 seconds until they are fragrant. Add the cream and another pinch of salt and bring the mixture to a simmer.
3. While the sauce is simmering, cook the spaghetti until al dente and when it has finished cooking, use tongs to pick the spaghetti up out of the water and drop it right into the pan with the sauce. Ladle about 50-60ml of the pasta water into the pan and cook over high heat until the liquid has reduced and is coating the pasta. This takes about two minutes, depending on the strength of your stovetop.
4. At the last minute, add most of the grated cheese, reserving some for last-minute topping. Add one tablespoon of lemon juice and toss everything together to combine. Divide between two bowls, and top with the reserved grated cheese, the chopped almonds and some black pepper. Serve immediately.
Find more of Danielle Alvarez's recipes in the Good Food Favourite Recipes cookbook.