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Pasta with Celery and Lemon

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From Rene Michelena, a 1998 Best New Chef, now at Centro in Boston.

  1. 4 large celery ribs, peeled and cut into matchsticks, plus 1/4 cup celery leaves, for garnish
  2. 3/4 pound thin linguine or spaghetti
  3. 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  4. 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  5. 1 cup chicken stock
  6. Large pinch of crushed red pepper
  7. 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  8. 1/4 cup chopped chives
  9. 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  10. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, blanch the celery for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a colander and refresh under cold water. Bring the water back to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until just al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, crushed red pepper and celery and cook until reduced by one-third, about 5 minutes.
  3. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Add the cooking water and Parmesan to the skillet and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the pasta, simmer for 1 minute and remove from the heat. Add the chives and lemon zest, season with salt and pepper and toss. Transfer the pasta to a large warmed bowl, sprinkle with the celery leaves and serve.
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