Spaghetti with bottarga, pistachio and lemon zest is perhaps the biggest flavoured of all quick-cook suppers using dry packed ingredients.
Bottarga is an Italian cooking staple never cooked, being used instead very simply, as a topping. Think of it as being not unlike parmesan in character: strong, savoury and also fishy and can be used as a final touch to enhance many simple foods, such as scrambled eggs or risottos. Often mixed to a paste with olive oil it is used on bruschetta as a paste.
You say bottarga
There are many variations of the name – botargo, buttariga, boutargue, poutargue – but all are recognisable as stemming from the same Arabic root, bitarikh which is an ancient, sunbaked ingredient belonging to the Mediterranean coastline.
I say botargo
With Phoenician roots 3,000 years ago, it is now found in north African, Greek and Provençal food, but is most often associated with Italian cooking, particularly that of Sardinia.
However you choose to call it, this rich amber-coloured mouthwateringly savoury ingredient is also wonderful served in thin carpaccio–like slices drizzled with olive oil as an appetiser or grated over a simple pasta with a tomato based sauce. Personally I prefer bottarga of mullet as it has a more delicate taste, but that of tuna is fuller–flavoured and both are ‘Sardinian gold’.
Either way this recipe can be completed in 8–12 mins, the time it takes to boil the pasta. Recipe serves two.
– 200g of spaghetti (and salt to cook)
– 100g of good quality bottarga
– 50g of crushed pistachios
– extra virgin olive oil
– 1/2 a lemon, juiced and peeled in thin strips (no pith)
– Cook spaghetti in salted water 8–12 mins
– Grate the bottarga in a bowl and season with olive oil, pistachios, lemon peel and lemon juice (mix with sufficient quantity of oil to dress pasta)
– Drain spaghetti al dente
– Sauté spaghetti in the pan with the mixture of pistachios and bottarga
– Serve and garnish with another sprinkling of pistachio
Sit back, soak up a shoreline sunset and relax in the knowledge you are joining a Phoenician fisherman’s tradition of 3,000 years — the bottarga brings deep umami flavour, the pistachio and pasta are packed with energy and all pack dry in a rucksack — a perfect food to eat whilst contemplating when the fish may bite.