I LOVE lemon sauce with pasta. Don’t get me wrong—a thick, zesty marinara is always good. But this lemon sauce is to die for. Tart, herbaceous, and nutty. Feel free to toss in your favorite protein or serve alongside a simple veggie, like the blanched haricot verts pictured here.
Time: 20 minutes
What You’ll Need:
- 1 pound of your favorite spaghetti (I used whole wheat)
- Juice of two lemons, about 1/2 cup
- Zest of one lemon
- 1/4 cup of fresh parsley, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup of walnuts, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 tablespoon of crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper
What to Do:
- Start by bringing a pot of water to a boil, adding a generous pinch of salt, and cooking your spaghetti according to the box directions. Important: If you like your pasta al dente (a slight “bite”), stop cooking it when it’s a little under al dente. If you like your pasta softer, then cook it to al dente. The spaghetti is going to continue cooking in the sauce for a few minutes.
- In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, lemon zest, crushed red pepper, and a teaspoon of salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Just before you drain the spaghetti, set aside 1/4 cup of the pasta water.
- Toss the cooked spaghetti back into the pot, and turn down to medium heat. Add the lemon juice mixture and stir to combine.
- Add in the pasta water a little bit at a time. Each time you add it in, stir to combine and wait until most of the excess liquid has been absorbed. Continue doing this until all or most of the pasta water has been incorporated. At this time, the sauce should look glossy and thick.
- Add in the walnuts, Parmesan cheese, and parsley and toss to combine.
- Serve the spaghetti with a slice of lemon. Top with an extra sprinkle of fresh parsley, chopped walnuts, black pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
- In the spirit of being fast and convenient, normally I would suggest taking a few pantry shortcuts, such as using dried parsley or bottled lemon juice. But in this recipe, lemon and parsley are the star flavors, so opt for fresh—it makes a huge difference in taste.
- “Why use pasta water?” you ask? As pasta cooks, it releases starch into the water. The starchy water helps the sauce come together better and stick and actually absorb into the hot noodles.