Spaghetti with Lime and Rocket

Keeping with the simple, a la Donna Hay, theme, here's another fast dinner.  Combining the bitter arugula (rocket) with the bright lime, creamy cheese and sweet prosciutto, Hay whips up an easy weeknight meal perfect for a hot summer night.

Arugula is one of my favorite greens--it's hard to know if you should call it an herb or a lettuce, as you can use it as either one.  Chop it up and toss it on a bruschetta or slip it on a sandwich; give it a quick rinse and leave it whole and throw it in a salad on its own or with other greens--either way, you cannot grow wrong.  It is bitter and quite sharp, though, which personally I like, but the husband prefers to pair arugula with something, anything when eating it.  Lucky for him, there were other mouthwatering ingredients from which to select.

Makrut (or kaffir) lime leaves, found usually in the herb section of your supermarket, are not the same as regular old lime leaves.  This Southeast Asian lime itself is generally not eaten (apparently it is commonly used in cleaning products) because it can become quite bitter and tough.  Further because the term kaffir is considered a racially offensive term in many parts of the world, there has been a movement to call these little globes makrut limes, given that this is how they are termed in Thailand (home to a cuisine that makes ample use of the lime).

Indeed, the makrut lime leaf can be tricky to find and adding more lime juice or some lime zest is an inadequate but acceptable substitution if need be.  The leaf itself is quite aromatic and lends a specific, bright, citrus taste found in many curries, soups, and stews.  When the leaf is used whole (say to season a broth or a curry), it is removed or not eaten; however, when it is shredded or chopped, it can be eaten. 

Finally, a word or two on prosciutto and the mozzarella.  Prosciutto--as many of you already know--is a lovely dry-cured ham that is sweet and savory and has a bit of substance in the mouth.  It should be chewy without being rubbery.  Get confused about the differences between prosciutto and pancetta (and even bacon)?  See here for the scoop.  

Mozzarella traditionally is made with buffalo milk but is more readily (and cheaply) available made from cow's milk.  The miniature balls we used were already soaking in herbs, so there is an extra kick of herbs in this pasta, but you can also purchase them plain.  Feta would make a fine substitute, but I like the texture of mozzarella--the outside is chewy without being rubbery, the inside creamy and soft.  I find feta a little too zingy sometimes, and this recipe has enough zing, what with the rocket and lime, but you make your own call.  It's your weeknight meal.

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Spaghetti with Lime and Rocket
Adapted from Donna Hay's Flavours

Serves 4

12 ounces spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon shredded makrut lime leaves or lime zest
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red chili, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
8 slices prosciutto, chopped
5 ounces arugula (rocket), shredded
3 tablespoons lime juice
5 ounces marinated feta or mozzarella in oil

1.  Cook the spaghetti in a large saucepan of rapidly boiling water until al dente. Drain.

2.  While the spaghetti is cooking, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the lime leaves (or zest), garlic, chili, and capers and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.

3.  Add the prosciutto and cook, stirring for 2 minutes or until the prosciutto is crisp. Add the spaghetti to the pan and toss to coat and heat through.

4.  To serve, toss the arugula and lime juice through the pasta and pile into serving bowls. Top with the marinated cheese, a little of its oil and cracked black pepper.  


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