I wondered if chile crisp would stay crisp if I cooked it in a sauce—and the answer is yes! Developing this recipe wasn’t as easy as simply stirring the crisp into the sauce. Pasta al limone relies on the amalgamation of butter and cream. With the extra oil from the chile crisp, the butter had to be adjusted down. I also thought of wine pairings for spicy foods, like dry Rieslings or sake, which are a big part of Marlena Spieler’s New York Times recipe for spaghetti al limone. All we need is a little splash of wine to add dimension but still bring out that spicy flavor in the cream sauce. Because dairy can tamp down the spiciness, this dish isn’t as fiery as the others. For a protein boost, I suggest sautéed shrimp or chicken breast.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil with a handful of kosher salt.
- Cook the spaghetti for 8 to 10 minutes or according to the package’s instructions for al dente.
- Reserve 1/2 cup of the salty pasta water and drain the rest. Keep the pasta in a bowl.
- Place the heavy cream and lemon zest in the pot and bring it to a boil.
- Once the cream is boiling, bring the heat down to medium-low.
- Add the butter, chile crisp, and a splash of wine.
- Continue to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the pasta back to the pot and use tongs to separate the strands.
- Simmer the pasta in the cream sauce for 5 to 10 more minutes, until you can move the pasta aside and see the bottom of the pot. If the sauce keeps pooling, then let it reduce.
- If the cream is not saucy enough, add a spoonful of pasta water.
- Divide the spaghetti between four bowls.
- Garnish with more cheese and/or chile crisp, if desired.
Jenn de la Vega is TASTE's Cook In Residence and the writer behind the blog Randwiches.