On my recent visit to Sicily, I bought a ‘cedro’ or ‘citron’, a large yellow citrus with a fragrant zest, a very thick white pitch and a small amount of fruit in the centre.
Cedro/citron is one of the three founding ancient fruits, the other two being mandarin and pomelo, from whence all the other commonly known citrus derive. It is usually candied and used in cakes.
At the Di Martino pasta shop in Naples airport I got chatting to the assistant who told me about this unusual recipe which I decided to cook for Christmas Eve. You could use any fragrant citrus such as bergamot, Meyer lemon, kaffir lime or the Bengali lebu, or just an ordinary lemon.
Pasta in cedro
A recipe I got from the woman selling Di Martino pasta at Naples airport.
- 1 cedro
- 2 litres water
- 500 g pasta shape of your choice, I used buselli
- 2 tbsp sea salt
- 100 g butter
- 50 g pistachio slivers
- 150 g pecorino, grated
- black pepper
Zest the cedro in fine strips and soak in a large pot of cold water overnight. This will be your pasta water so make sure there is enough to cook your pasta.
Scoop out the zest pieces and dry them roughly with a clean tea towel.
Bring the pasta water to a boil with the sea salt. Then add the pasta.
In another saucepan or deep frying pan, gently fry the zest in butter. I used salted butter but if using unsalted, make sure you add salt
When the pasta is cooked al dente, use a slotted ladle to scoop out the pasta
Add the pasta to the lemon and butter stirring. Add the pistachios, pecorino and pepper. Serve immediately.