Hundreds of years ago the Chinese developed a new fruit by crossing a lemon and either a mandarin or an orange tree, no one knows for sure. PCR and DNA sequencing could definitely solve this  puzzle, but as far as I know, this research hasn’t materialized yet. The fruit, introduced in the USA in 1908, is the Meyer lemon, and once you try it, you understand why people go crazy when they show up  in farmers’ markets and grocery stores. I’ve been using them often these days, absolutely in love with their flavor, which is often described (quite accurately) as floral.   This pasta came together quickly for a delicious weeknight dinner.  My inspiration was a recipe published in a recent Fine Cooking issue (number 108, the one with the beautiful croquembuche on the cover).

(loosely adapted from Fine Cooking #108)

10 ounces ziti
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 Tbs butter
1 small size leek, white and light green part only, diced
8 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, cut in large chunks
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon (will be used separately)
1 cube of Dorot frozen basil (or 2 Tbs fresh leaves, minced)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
freshly grated Parmiggiano

Heat the olive oil and the butter in a large skillet in medium heat.  Add the minced leeks, cook until softened, season lightly with salt and pepper.  Increase the heat to high and add the artichoke pieces (no need to defrost if frozen), and the red pepper flakes. Cook without moving them too often, so that a nice golden brown color develops.  Remove from the heat, add the lemon zest and reserve.

In a small bowl, mix the ricotta, mascarpone cheese, the basil, and the lemon juice.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water, reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, drain the pasta and place back in the pan.  Add the ricotta mixture, stir very well to combine.  If too thick, add some of the pasta water.  Finally, gently incorporate the artichokes, and serve, with Parmiggiano cheese grated on top.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The original recipe called for 4 different types of cheese and several herbs.  I wanted a dish a little lighter and simpler, so that the Meyer lemon had a better chance to shine.  It worked quite well, I am already a bit sad that their season won’t last forever.  Carpe diem, my friends.  Carpe diem.

ONE YEAR AGO: Blasted Broccoli, Stove-top version

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  1. I love this kind of pasta, the combination of artichokes and lemon is perfect, and the mascarpone cheese just takes this over the top

    I am printing it out!


  2. Meyer lemon season is here and I am so excited. Thank you for this wonderful pasta recipe using Meyer lemons.

    Every year I host a potluck dinner where everyone is asked to bring a Meyer lemon dish, from entrees to desserts. Everything has to have Meyer lemons in it. I just know your Ziti with Artichokes and Meyer Lemon Sauce recipe will be a big hit.

    I must admit that I am running out of creative ideas for Meyer lemon dishes. Do you have any recommendations for Meyer lemon recipe books?

    Loads of appreciative applause in advance from my potluck guests to you,


  3. This recipe looks absolutely amazing – they had Meyer lemons at our Whole Foods last week, so I’m hoping they still have some. Quick question – what could you use as a mascarpone substitute? I can sometimes find it, but sometimes they stock so little of it that I can’t get a hold of it – is there an appropriate substitute? I try to keep things on the lower fat/sodium side, so if there’s an alternative with a bit less fat, that would be great, too.


  4. @everyone: thanks for stopping by, hope you try this pasta, it was really good!

    @Jessica: if you really want to cut the fat, I would leave the mascarpone out. I’ve made a very similar recipe using only ricotta, and it will be less creamy, but still delicious. The main difference is leftovers – the mascarpone makes the dish even next day pretty creamy, whereas if you skip it the pasta has a tendency to feel grainy and a bit on the dry side. Another option is to use a little goat cheese – not sure you like the flavor, but I just made a pasta dish using it as the main component of the sauce (will be blogging about it sometime soon). And, finally, the usual substitute would be cream cheese, but you won’t be cutting calories or fat with that one! 😉


  5. We were given total freedom over playing around with flavors and so I went with Meyer lemon and coconut. These seemed like the perfect flavors for Easter plus our lemon tree was overflowing with lemons.Let me tell you this was one amazing cheesecake! I used crispy lemon cookies in the crust lemon juice and lemon zest in the filling and lemon curd spread on top so the lemon flavor came through really well.


  6. Fabulous! The lemon cuts through the heaviness of cheeses making this a very light ad refreshing main course for dinner, but also would make a great side for steak at a larger dinner party.


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