You may have noticed my absence on the column lately — I am post-cookbook recovery, from developing recipes and photographing for Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors and Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City — but now I’m back (Thanks to our own Annie Werbler for filling in and providing great recipes while I was away)!
For those of you who have ever worked on a cookbook, you’ll know what I mean. For those of you who haven’t or who dream of it, please know that it is exhilarating and takes all of your energy at the same time. I loved cookbooks before, but I have an even greater appreciation for all of the work that goes into that final product that you hold in your hands. Such is the appreciation I felt when I held A Modern Way to Eat: 200+ Satisfying Vegetarian Recipes by Anna Jones, a London-based cook, writer, and food stylist. It is a beautiful handbook of easy-to-make vegetarian recipes with useful charts on how certain dishes like soups, pestos, and nut butters are structured so that you can learn to make your own without referring to instructions. We have chosen to share Anna’s recipe for Avocado and Lemon Zest Spaghetti for its ease of making and flavors of summer. Enjoy! —Kristina
Why Anna loves this recipe: At my house supper is almost always quick, but it has to be flavor- and nutrition-packed, and this hits all the right notes. I tend to use whole wheat spaghetti as it works really well with the avocado. Whole wheat spaghetti will soak up more oil than the other kinds, though, so you may need to add a trickle more at the end. I prefer to use the capers that come sitting in little jars of brine. I find the salt-crusted ones just too salty, even if they are washed. Use whichever you prefer but remember all capers are salty, so be sparing about adding more salt. I often top this pasta with a poached egg, partly because it makes a more filling dinner but also because of the sunshine-yellow sauce it makes for the pasta. Definitely try it.
Photography by Brian Ferry
Avocado and Lemon Zest Spaghetti
– sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
– 1 pound/400 g dried spaghetti of your choice (I use whole wheat, but rice, quinoa, or regular spaghetti will work, too)
– olive oil
– 4 tablespoons capers in brine, roughly chopped
– 1 clove garlic, peeled and very finely sliced
– grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons, and juice of ½ a lemon
– a bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked
-a bunch of fresh parsley, leaves picked
-2 ripe avocados
1. Fill a big pot with water and add a good pinch of salt. Bring to a rolling boil, add the pasta, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or according to the package instructions, until perfectly al dente.
2. Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan over low heat, then add the capers and garlic, and sauté gently until the edges of the garlic start to very slightly brown. Remove from the heat and add the lemon zest.
3. Chop the herbs and add them to the pan. Halve and pit the avocados, then use a knife to make criss-cross cuts through the flesh, chopping it inside the skin. Use a spoon to scoop out each half into the pan, and stir to mix all the flavors together.
4. Before you drain the pasta, carefully scoop out half a cupful of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and add it to the frying pan with a little of the cooking water and a good drizzle of olive oil. Taste and add salt, pepper, and lemon juice as needed. Scoop the pasta into bowls and eat on your lap.
Reprinted with permission from A Modern Way to Eat: 200+ Satisfying Vegetarian Recipes by Anna Jones, copyright © 2015. Photography by Brian Ferry. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC
About Anna: Anna Jones is a cook, stylist, and writer who began her food career working in the restaurant kitchen of Fifteen in London, with Jamie Oliver. She later worked as Jamie’s food stylist, writer, and food creative on books, TV shows, and food campaigns. Anna’s recipes and styling have appeared in the Telegraph, Observer Food Monthly, the Guardian, and Jamie magazine. A Modern Way to Eat is her first solo book. She lives, writes, and cooks in Hackney, East London.
Portrait by Andy Ford