Tuesday 10 September 2013

Spaghettini with a Double-Creamy Onion, Lemon and ‘Caviar’ Sauce

Very special occasions deserve special food, and this simple yet disgracefully indulgent pasta dish perfectly fits the bill.

Spaghettini with a Double-Creamy Onion, Lemon and ‘Caviar’ Sauce
Spaghettini with a Double-Creamy Onion, Lemon and ‘Caviar’ Sauce.
Photograph by Michael Le Grange, and bowl by David Walters.
Image © Random House Struik 2012.

This is a recipe from my cookbook, and I'd forgotten all about it. Isn't it odd how one so easily forgets recipes? I was reminded of this dish by someone on Twitter, who wanted to ask me a question about the ingredients.

This is really easy to make, but, as I said in my book, "the important thing here is to achieve a silken, unctuous sauce, so be sure to use a top-quality full-fat cream cheese: the low-fat variety, or creamed cottage cheese, will not do. Good black lumpfish roe is expensive, but it goes a long way, and adds an essential, delicate ocean taste to this sauce." I can recommend Lancewood cream cheese, which is quite expensive, but it has a lovely texture.

Wine-Braised Baby Leeks in Crisp Prosciutto
I snapped this picture when I was writing and testing the recipe for my
book.  Bowl by David Walters. I think food photographer
Michael Le Grange's picture wins, don't you?

Spaghettini with a Double-Creamy Onion, Lemon and ‘Caviar’ Sauce

2 x 250 g tubs full-fat cream cheese
4 Tbsp (60 ml) butter
2 medium onions, peeled and very finely and neatly diced
2 small cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
5 Tbsp (75 ml) dry white wine
juice of 1 large lemon
1 Tbsp (15 ml) finely grated lemon zest
1½ cups (375 ml) fresh cream
1½ packets (750 g) spaghettini, or similar thin pasta
1 x 100 g tub of good-quality black lumpfish roe

Place the cream cheese in a large mixing bowl and beat energetically with a metal whisk until smooth and creamy. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large, shallow pan, add the onions and garlic and cover them with a circle of baking paper, or the wrapper from a block of butter. Cook over a very low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and very soft.

Remove the paper, turn up the heat slightly and add the wine and lemon juice. Bubble briskly for 3–4 minutes, or until the liquid in the pan has reduced to a tablespoon or so of slightly sticky glaze.

Turn the heat down again, add the cream cheese and whisk until smooth. Add the lemon zest and cream and bubble gently for a further 2–3 minutes, stirring all the time. If the sauce seems a little too thick to coat the spaghettini (this will depend on the type of cream cheese you’ve used) thin it with a few tablespoons of warm water; it should be about the consistency of pouring cream. Cover the pan and set aside.

When you’re ready to serve, cook the pasta in plenty of rapidly boiling salted water for 9–10 minutes, or until al dente. Put eight pasta bowls in a low oven to warm. While the pasta’s cooking, gently reheat the sauce till very hot, but don’t let it boil. Drain the pasta for 30 seconds in a colander, then tip it, still slightly damp, into the hot sauce. Remove from the heat, add 2-3 Tbsp (or more, to taste) of  the caviar and gently toss together so every strand of pasta is coated. Swirl the spaghettini into the warmed bowls and top each one with a little extra caviar change in yellow, above Serve with a plain salad of mixed dark green leaves dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and salt.

Serves 8.

Cook’s Notes

The sauce, hot pasta and lumpfish roe must be tossed together immediately before serving, but you can make the sauce – up to the point where you thin it with water – well in advance. Keep it in a lidded container in the fridge, then reheat it and continue with the recipe.

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