SPAGHETTI WITH MELON
Many years ago I remember eating with my parents at a restaurant in Venice that specialized in unusual dishes, none of which were seafood or risotto, the staples of Venetian cuisine. The restaurant is no longer there and I don’t remember the name, but I do remember a delicious dish of pasta with cantaloupe. My mother started making it a home and I often make it when we have friends over. Once it is cooked, the melon is mostly unrecognizable and it’s great fun seeing if people can guess what the sauce’s “secret” ingredient is.
Serves 4 people
• 3 pounds cantaloupe melon
• 3 tablespoons butter
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1 pound spaghetti (linguine is also good here)
• 2 teaspoons concentrated tomato paste
• 1½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil.
Pare away the rind of the melon, down to the orange flesh. Discard the seeds and cut the melon into 1/2-inch dice. Put the butter in a 12-inch skillet and place over medium high heat. Once the butter has melted completely, add the melon and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the melon begins to break down and most of the liquid it releases has evaporated, about 10 minutes.
Add about 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling pasta water, put in the spaghetti, and stir until all the strands are submerged. Cook until al dente.
Add the tomato paste and lemon juice to the melon and stir well. Add the cream and cook until it thickens and reduces by about a third, 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
When the pasta is done, drain well, toss with the sauce and the Parmigiano-Reggiano; serve at once.
Recipe from Thirty Minute Pasta: 100 Quick and Easy Recipes by Giuliano Hazan - (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, September 2009, $24.95/trade paperback original)