Yesterday was Cinco di Mayo and had we been in the States it would have been celebrated with margaritas, chips and salsa, and tacos. It’s a holiday I’ve long stopped “celebrating” but I decided to take inspiration from the flavors of Mexico and make pasta with lime and chili pepper or peperoncino as it’s called here.
Peperoncino are the most common spicy peppers in in Italy, they are small, red and pointed. They are not as spicy though as the peppers we normally find in the US. They are grown usually in the South of Italy, in Calabria. Italians use them for an element of taste, not to make something overly spicy. You will find peperoncino in a variety of dishes just to give it an extra kick.
This recipe stems from the traditional pasta reciple “olio, aglio e peperoncino”. The addition of the lime gives this traditional dish a refreshing, summery twist. It would go perfect with a lime margarita!
Pasta with oil, lime and chili/ Pasta con olio, lime e peperoncino
240g of spaghetti or other long, thin pasta
2 gloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
Fresh chopped parsley
1-2 peperoncini (or small red chili peppers, to taste)
Pecorino Romano, to taste
First bring a large soup pot of water to a boil, salt liberally (as the Italians, “salty as the sea”). In a medium sized pan, add enough oil so that it forms a small pool in the pan (this will be your sauce). Chop the parsley and set aside. Finely chop garlic and add to the oil with the two bay leaves and chopped peperoncini. Stir occasionally and cook until garlic browns. Take off heat. Zest one lime and set aside the zest in small bowl. Remove the bay leaves from the oil.
Once the water is boiling, cook the pasta for one minute less than indicated on the package. When the pasta is cooked, take it immediately from the water (without rinsing, use a pasta spoon to transfer. The starches on that pasta is necessary!) and add to the oil and garlic mixture. Heat over low heat. Add the zest of one lime and the juice of one lime. Mix well, stirring often to ensure the pasta is completely covered in the sauce. Mix in some chopped parsley and stir again.
Serve topped with chopped parsley and grated pecorino cheese. Extra lime juice can be added too!