Years ago before there was a Trader Joe’s in New York City, my husband used to hear about the fun food store all the time from his friend and colleague who had grown up in Los Angeles. His friend would rave about Trader Joe’s specialty products that could only be purchased at TJ’s, and not found anywhere else. We really couldn’t understand at that point what the big deal was – there were plenty of grocery and specialty stores on each block of Manhattan!
When we were finally acquainted with the Trader Joe’s shopping experience, it became apparent why this friend was hooked. The stores have a vast selection of organic food, fresh and inexpensive produce, copious vegetarian options, cheap yet distinctive wine, and unique specialty items (where else can you buy a box of microwaveable Indian dinner for two for abut $3?).
Trader Joe's is now a weekly stop in my grocery shopping line-up. This summer I tried one of the Trader Joe's original products, Lemon Pepper Pappardelle Pasta. I made a delectable sauce to go with it, that in retrospect had too many layers that buried the flavorful pasta. I purchased the pasta again and have had it waiting on deck in my pantry for a night when I had nothing else planned.
I cut out a lot of the ingredients I previously used and simplified it. We ended up with a more pure and delicate pasta, that was just as good as my previous attempt, but gave the pasta the full spotlight. This was also another excuse to use my Myer Lemon Olive Oil. (For the record, my first version included the following ingredients with the addition of sun-dried tomatoes, shallots, white wine, and scallops.)
Kate's Lemon Pepper Pappardelle Pasta with Basil
* 1 (8 oz.) package Lemon Pepper Pappardelle Pasta
* 3 tablespoons Meyer Lemon Olive Oil*
* ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated; plus more for garnish
* ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
* ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
* Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
* Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and cook pasta per instructions on package. Drain pasta (but do not rinse) reserving ½ cup pasta water. In a large bowl, combine pasta with remaining ingredients. Add pasta water to moisten, if necessary. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with more cheese.
**Note - If you don’t have lemon olive oil, I would recommend using extra-virgin olive oil along with 1 teaspoon of lemon zest (or fresh lemon juice) per tablespoon of olive oil.