One of the best meals I remember having in Florence was the most simple. It blew my mind. It was literally pasta, olive oil, lemon zest, and parmesan. On several occasions I've tried to make it without getting the perfect consistency that I wanted, but thanks to the glories of the internet I think I've found the best recipe. The best part? You can add as much or as little cheese or lemon to make the dish perfect for you. (For the record, I like a lot of both).
lemon and cheese pasta
adapted from Deb
1 pound spaghetti or long noodle pasta
3 medium lemons
for 1 tablespoon of lemon zest and 1/2 cup of juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 - 1 cup grated pecorino or parmesan
1/2 - 1 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, cook pasta in salted water until al dente (12-15 minutes). While pasta is cooking, zest and juice lemons.
Set aside 1 1/2 cups of pasta water and drain pasta.* In the same pot, bring 1 cup pasta water, olive oil, heavy cream and zest to a boil on medium high heat. Slightly whisk to mix. Add pasta and reduce to medium or medium-low heat. Add cheese and 1/4 cup juice to the pasta and toss together with tongs (be sure to continually lift pasta and mix so it doesn't stick together and mix thoroughly). If you'd like add more water and/or lemon juice to thin out the sauce or add more lemony goodness. Toss in parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy with bread and chianti.
*I forgot to reserve any pasta water, but I found that regular, hot tap water with some salt was a good substitution.