A family trip to Tuscany and a lemon tree after the rain. A seed is planted.
For years, whenever the family gathered, talk inevitably turned to taking a family trip to Italy to see our much loved relatives outside Florence. For years, it was just that – talk fueled by bottles of wine at family gatherings. But then in 2006, that much talked about family trip became a reality. We booked our tickets and packed our bags for Italy.
We gathered on a property just south of Florence; scattered about the grounds, each in our own little Tuscan house. The spectacular countryside rose up around us.
The glorious week was spent spent criss-crossing the Italian countryside, visiting hill towns and villages; wineries and abbeys. We visited our family near Florence. Family from near and far joined us that afternoon. In typical Italian fashion, many we were meeting for the first time. Little did we know that it would be last time we would see my Dad’s much beloved cousin, Bruno. A year later when we returned, Bruno was too sick to meet us at his seaside apartment in Calabria.
I first stepped foot in Montalcino on this trip – a visit that would impact my life greatly. I fell in love with the little village. Little did I know that a few short years later, I would purchase an apartment just at the top of this very hill.
Evenings were spent dining at local trattoria or cooking together in one of the villas – evenings spent gathered around the table, conversation filled with love and laughter.
A trip of a lifetime finally realized.
It was on this trip that I shot a photo. A photo that somehow captured the essence of our trip. A reminder that the simple things in life are the most important. A reminder that it isn’t so much about the things we have but about having each other. For my brother Joey and I, it was this simple photo of lemons after a rain that brought our trip home.
While in Italy, we discussed that it would be fun to start a blog – a blog to share stories of our life growing up in an Italian-American family; a blog to share our love of cooking passed on from our mother. It took us awhile to turn that idea into reality but by 2008, we finally had a name – Our Italian Table. And a tagline that had real meaning for us. An old Italian saying – ‘A tavola, non s’invecchia.’ (At the table, one never grows old.) And lastly – a searched for a logo that represented what we hoped out blog would be about – the simple pleasures of life. We knew we had to use our lemons.
So when I see our logo, I think back to that magical trip to Italy. I am grateful that we all took the time to slow down and make that trip a reality; took the time to be together with family in a place that held special meaning for us. The kids are now grown, our aunts and cousin have since gone but the memories from 2006 will last a lifetime.
And once again, at our last family gathering, as the wine flowed, we discussed taking another family trip next year.
p.s. Wait – the title says there is lemon pasta in this post! I wanted to share a recent super simple lemon pasta that I made. The brightness of fresh lemon juice paired with the crunch of pistachios. No cooking required other than boiling the water for pasta. Simple. Delicious. Comforting.
Spaghetti with Lemon and Pistachios
A simple delicious lemon and pistachio pasta for when you just don’t feel like cooking…
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled (for rubbing the bowl)
- 3 large lemons
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup grated Parmesan, plus additional for serving
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Finely chopped pistachios, for serving
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat.
- In the meantime, cut the garlic clove in half and rub the exposed part of the clove around the inside of your serving bowl. (This will give the pasta a subtle garlic flavor.) Discard garlic.
- Zest and juice all 3 lemons, keeping the zest and juice separate. Add about 1/3 of the lemon zest and all the lemon juice to the bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Whisk in the Parmesan. Taste and season with the salt and pepper.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions until tender but still firm (al dente), stirring occasionally.
- Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta. Add the warm pasta to the serving bowl and toss. Add the pasta water in ¼ cup increments until you have the creamy sauce coating each strand. Taste again and adjust the seasoning.
- Garnish with chopped pistachios, additional reserved lemon zest and Parmesan prior to serving.
Add fresh ricotta: Simply add about 1 cup of fresh ricotta to the lemon mixture. The warm pasta will melt the ricotta and become a heavenly creamy sauce that will coat the pasta.