Esme's at an interesting stage where she as engaged in make believe ("Mum, pretend you're an Eater Witch who wants to steal the mermaid's money but you don't know it's fake money and when you wake up you realize the real money is gone but you can't find it. Okay?") as in knowing the clear perimeters of the truth ("Mum, when I have children, will you be dead?"). We caught the last few moments of regalia that was William and Kate's royal wedding on Saturday morning.
Esme kept checking with me, "She's a real princess?" Me: "Yes. Now that she's married Prince William, she is a princess."
Esme: "For real life?"
Me: "Yes, she's an actual princess now."
Esme: "Are they dead now?"
Me: "No, this is happening right now in London."
Esme: "I'm a princess, too."
Me: "Not, really, sweetie."
Esme: "Yes, I AM a real princess."
Esme: "It's beautiful."
Me: "Yes, it actually is."
photos: Maya Visnyei
Ready for the tenuous segue? Hold on tight, here it comes.… When it comes to food, she's equally diametric in her approach. Sauce, no! Salad, (suddenly) yes! I've been thinking of doing a lemon pasta for awhile but wasn't sure it would fly with the littles. Like every kid, they both love noodles. But sauce is sometimes tricky. If Esme can catch me in time while I'm plating she requests sauce on the side (where she can more easily ignore it) but if she doesn't and I go ahead and sauce her pasta, she'll still eat it.
Traditionally, this is a pasta that is served very simply. Just shredded basil and a little more Parmesan sprinkled on top at the table. But I can see how it could become a nice base for other flavours. Chopped steamed asparagus would be delicious mixed in and even — sorry, if I'm offending some family tradition but I've just got to say it — diced chicken. Peas wouldn't feel out of place. I kept it simple for our first spin with it and it was a big hit. Warm and really lemony — it's like spring time in a bowl! And it's fast, fast, fast to make. I'm definitely adding this to our roster for lazy Wednesday dinners. Best of all it's fit for both real girls and real princesses.
1 500 gram package of linguini or spaghetti
3 lemons juiced (1 zested)
6 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
handful of basil, washed and sliced into strips (chiffonade if you're feeling fancy)
salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to package instructions. Scoop out about a cup or two of the water before draining.
While pasta is doing its thing: mix lemon juice, zest, oil, parmesan in a bowl. It will make a pretty gloppy sauce.
Place drained pasta back into pot. Pour that gloppy goodness over the pasta and toss well until the cheese melts and each strand of pasta is well coated. You can add a bit of cooking water if you need to loosen up your sauce. Toss in the basil and toss again.
Use tongs to grab up a the noodles and twirl them onto the plate. The latest issue of Bon Appetit — with the amazing ed Adam Rappaport newly at the helm — is full of great tips for elevating simple pasta dishes, like the twirling one I've just poached. Or you can look online at their great video demos. Sprinkle a little extra grated Parm over top at the table.