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Lemon Pasta

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Lemon Pasta is simple, light and the perfect meal that come together in under 15 minutes. This pasta dish makes a nice base for the addition of shrimp, chicken or salmon.

Lemon Pasta with Lemons

LEMON PASTA

When Mike and I were in Italy 7 years ago we fell in love with the food.

I have always loved pasta but there is something so much better about pasta straight from Italy.

One dish I especially loved was a Lemon Pasta or pasta al limone as they call it. 

Lemon is one of my favorite ingredients so I knew when I got home I had to recreate this light pasta dish. 

If you love pasta and lemon, then this lemon pasta is for you! 

This pasta dish is a light dish that comes together in under 15 minutes.

I love making this pasta in the spring or summer and pairing it with a Lemon Arugula Salad with Pine Nuts and Green Beans with Brown Butter and Toasted Almonds. 

Lemon Pasta with parsley

You really can’t beat a pasta that is so easy to make.

I always have recipes like this Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta, Mediterranean Pasta or Caprese Pasta in my back pocket for busy nights.

I especially love this on those busy weeknights when I don’t have a lot of time to cook.

It is the perfect base for adding your favorite roasted vegetables or protein, like shrimp or grilled chicken.

You can easily create a lemon chicken pasta by grilling this Mediterranean Chicken and adding it on top of the pasta. 

You can bulk up the pasta using beans like chickpeas or white beans for extra protein.

Lemon Pasta Above

WHAT INGREDIENTS ARE IN THIS LEMON PASTA RECIPE?

PASTA: When I make this pasta dish I like to use spaghetti. This recipe works great on any pasta though.

You can try angel hair, linguine or a small shape like macaroni. For a healthier version try whole wheat pasta.

LEMON JUICE AND ZEST: The lemon juice and zest is what gives this pasta the sweet flavor. You can use more or less based on your tastes. I highly suggest adding the lemon zest for that extra punch of flavor. 

CHEESE: Freshly grated Parmesan cheese is the other key ingredient in this pasta dish.

If you can find a high quality chunk of Parmesan cheese that works great or you can buy pre-shredded cheese. 

FRESH HERBS: I like to add fresh herbs to my pasta depending on what I have on hand. Try using fresh basil, thyme or parsley. 

Lemon Pasta with Fork

HOW TO MAKE LEMON PASTA

  1. You will start by generously salting the water and then brining it to a boil. Add your pasta and cook until just past al dente. You don’t want to overcook your pasta because it will continue to cook a bit when tossed with the sauce. 
  2. Before draining the pasta, reserve about 1/2 cup of the water that the pasta cooked in. This helps create the lemon sauce.
  3. In a large mixing bowl add the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and zest, Parmesan cheese salt and pepper, crushed red pepper flakes {optional} and stir to combine.
  4. Add 1/4 cup of reserved cooking water and continue to whisk or stir until it is mixed together. 
  5. There is an optional step if you want a creamier sauce: you can add about 1/2 cup of cream or milk to the pasta at this point. 
  6. Next, add the sauce into the pot with the pasta and stir until everything is well combined. You can choose to add more of the reserved cooking water depending on the the consistency you want from the sauce. 
  7. Serve warm with extra fresh parmesan, crushed red pepper and fresh herbs. 

Lemon Pasta Above with Fork

COOKING TIPS FOR LEMON PASTA

  • When cooking the pasta I like to cook it until it just a bit over al dente. When you add the pasta to the sauce it will continue to cook a bit more so you don’t want it to be overcooked. 
  • If you have some of this pasta as leftovers you may want to add more olive oil and lemon to the pasta when you are ready to eat it. Sometimes the pasta soaks up the sauce when it sits in the fridge. 
  • Reserve some of the water when you cook the pasta and use that to thin out the lemon sauce if you want. The starch from the water will also the sauce coat the pasta better.
  • Use cream or milk to thicken the sauce of the lemon pasta. 
  • I suggest using fresh lemon juice with this recipe and not store-bought bottled lemon juice. The flavor is much better from the fresh juice. 

 

WHAT CAN I ADD TO THIS LEMON PASTA?

This pasta al limone is a great base for adding protein from meat to beans.

Here are some ideas:

Lemon Pasta with parsley

HOW LONG DOES THIS LEMON PASTA RECIPE LAST?

This lemon pasta will keep in the fridge for up to three days in an air tight container. When I go to reheat the leftovers I will often add 1 or 2 Tablespoons of water to help thin out the sauce or add some olive oil.

You can reheat the pasta in the microwave or in a skillet on low. 

YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE THESE RECIPES: 

CHICKEN PICCATA // A CEDAR SPOON

ORECCHIETTE WITH BROCCOLI // LOVE & LEMONS 

PENNE PASTA WITH PARMESAN // CHELSEA’S MESSY APRON

ONE POT CHICKEN PASTA // A SPICY PERSPECTIVE

Lemon Pasta with Fork

Lemon Pasta

Yield: 6-8
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of spaghetti {or pasta of your choice}
  • 3 lemons, juiced and the zest of 1 of the lemons
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Crushed red pepper {optional}
  • Fresh herbs {like parsley and basil}, chopped
  • Cream is optional for a thicker, creamier sauce

Instructions

  1. Generously salt a large pot of water. Bring to a boil and add the pasta in. Cook until just over al dente, making sure not to overcook.
  2. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta and return to the pot.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl combine the olive oil, lemon juice, zest, Parmesan cheese, minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk until well combined. Add crushed red pepper {optional}.
  4. Add 1/4 cup of reserved cooking water and continue to whisk or stir until it is mixed together {you can also use cream or milk to create a thicker sauce if you liie}.
  5. Add the sauce into the pot and stir the pasta and sauce together until well combined.
  6. Serve warm with fresh herbs, more Parmesan cheese and crushed pepper.

Notes

I like to use this pasta as a base for protein--like grilled shrimp and chicken. You can add beans like chickpeas or white beans.

Grilled or roasted vegetables are also great. Try carrots, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower or tomatoes.

Other nice additions are capers, artichokes or sun-dried tomatoes.

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15 Minute Shrimp Linguine With Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce

Monday 15th of February 2021

[…] might remember my Lemon Pasta that I […]

Janice

Friday 1st of January 2021

I love lemon pasta and this recipe is a great, simple one to follow. I usually add a small handful of pan-toasted fresh breadcrumbs on top for a little added crunch.

Julia

Friday 1st of January 2021

Love that idea!

Italian Sausage Pasta - A Cedar Spoon

Wednesday 8th of January 2020

[…] special occasions. Some years we will go lighter and make this Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta or this Lemon Pasta with grilled chicken or grilled […]

Anne Kepner

Friday 10th of May 2019

Beautiful pasta recipe, and a delicious excuse to use the lemons off of my tree! Love your side dish suggestions too~they all sound so delicious!

Sarah

Wednesday 8th of May 2019

I absolutely love pasta, however, I have never had it with lemon. In fact, I very rarely have anything with lemon. It's not that I don't like lemon, I just never learned how to cook with them. This recipe looks delicious and very simple to make. I am going to have to give this one a try next time I get my hands on some lemons.

Julia

Wednesday 8th of May 2019

Hope you enjoy it!

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