This is it: the recipe that started it all for me while watching the legendary Nigella Lawson make this on her show (and, coincidentally, the first-ever recipe presented by her). It’s sumptuous, silky, and smooth. How very Nigella. At university, I made this more than anything else – and through the years, fiddled and modified with the addition of proteins or veggies. Still, the lemon sauce remains true to Nigella. Beyond its simplicity and lemony-creamy appetite appeal, the notion of not having to cook the sauce makes this an express route to joy
In 2018, I was lucky enough to meet her at a book-signing in the UK. No prizes for guessing which recipe I got signed.
150 grams thick-cut bacon
900 grams linguine
2 egg yolks
⅔ cup 35% cream (18% cream works here too)
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
Juice and zest from a whole lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
½ stick unsalted butter
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat, add the bacon and cook, occasionally turning until beginning to crisp. Once cooked, remove from the heat and transfer the bacon to a plate lined with some paper towel. Set aside.
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Then add a hefty handful of salt. (As Nigella herself poetically recommends, ‘pasta cooking water should be as salty as the Mediterranean.’)
- Add the pasta and give it an authoritative stir; you don’t want any degree of noodle-stick. Set a timer for a couple of minutes less than the package directs.
- For the sauce: In a bowl, add the yolks and whisk slightly to aerate. Then stir in the cream, cheese, lemon zest and juice.
- Add salt and pepper and then taste. If you find it’s too lemony (if there could be such a thing), then add a touch more cream and cheese.
- When the timer says so, check the doneness of the pasta. When it’s ready, scoop up a half-cup or so of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. Off the heat, tip the pasta back into the pot and add the butter and gently stir to make sure each strand gets a buttery kiss (the best kind).
- Pour in the lemon sauce and stir well. If the pasta looks a bit dry, add small amounts of the cooking water to hydrate, but go easy to not thin out the sauce.
- Snip in the now-cool bacon, sprinkle over the parsley leaves, and serve immediately.