If you enjoy a light and fresh pasta sauce, then this is a recipe for you! Pasta al limone is easy to make and by the time it takes for the pasta to cook, dinner is served. Combining lemon with pasta isn’t something new for yours truly. But, this is the first time I ever made pasta with just lemon juice, butter, and cheese. The silky smooth lemon sauce is so delicious there’s no need to add heavy cream. The secret? It is a combination of pasta water with cheese. The addition of starchy water emulsifies the oils of the cheese. Here’s the thing, though, I was taught that pasta needs a good amount of water to cook in. However, if you add just enough to cover the pasta, it produces a thick starch. This is liquid gold and will make all the difference when making pasta al limone.
you will need
1 lb spaghetti or pasta of choice
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese (or a combo of 1 cup Parmesan & 1/2 cup pecorino)
4 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
grated lemon zest of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/3 cup or more of reserved pasta water
In a small bowl, whisk cheese and lemon juice to make a paste. Gradually add the oil while whisking until smooth. Stir in the lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a generous amount of salt. Cook pasta, occasionally stirring until al dente according to the package directions.
While the pasta is cooking, finish the sauce. In a large skillet on medium-high heat, melt the butter then reduce the heat to low. Drain pasta and reserve 1/3 cup of pasta water. Using tongs add pasta to the pan with butter sauce on low heat. Toss to coat. Add the cheese and lemon mixture to the pasta. Stir until combined then add the starchy pasta water to the spaghetti. Keep stirring. It will take a few minutes to thicken and create a silky sauce. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
the culinary chase’s note:
Add a bit of colour with chopped basil or parsley. And, if you like, grate a bit more cheese on top. Enjoy!