spaghetti with lemon and olive oil

[Note: There’s a newer, simplified version of spaghetti al limone right here.]

Look, it wasn’t my finest moment but my Happy Valentine’s Day gift to my husband was an epic meltdown over book deadlines and recipe flops and the near impossibility of getting anything done with a toddler underfoot in a kitchen that doesn’t actually fit the two of us. It wasn’t pretty. We ordered pizza and watched How I Met Your Mother.

Now, just in case that story elicited even a wisp of pity, you should take it back right now because the week, it got better from there. First, I realized that my “hey, let’s not do gifts this year” conversation with my husband may have never left my own head when he busted out tulips and a spa certificate. (Oops. I’m a real catch, aren’t I?) Then my very kind agent and editor talked me off the book ledge, they’re good at things like that though I suppose they have to be, taking on nuts like me. The following night, I made an actual dinner that involved those insane green beans and this little spaghetti dish I’ll get to in a bit because you know, it’s hardly as interesting as what we did the day after that:

so, this happened

Here’s where the story could continue in any of the following ways: How hard it was to be away from our little baby for the weekend (so hard! except for all of that sleep!) How quickly we adjusted to views like this, boats like that, beers like this and sunsets like that.

the viewasailbalashirequisite sunset photo

… How unnaturally excited I was to see someone cooking, and realized that might have started to miss my tiny kitchen, just a tiny bit.

flouringfryingdrainingif you insist

But I say, “eh!” You can hear about sunsets and calamari anywhere, and instead we should talk about this right now. And then never, ever speak of it again.

our ride is here

When Alex told his boss we were going to Aruba for the weekend, he said, “I have only two words for you: Kukoo Kunuku”. A dutiful employee, Alex signed us up on Friday evening and at 6:30 on the nose, the loudest, bouncing-est, most garish, windowless bus cranking island music that surely could have been heard a mile away pulled up for us. Like, they had our names, credit card numbers and we were the only people out front thus it was impossible to deny (mostly because our faces were half-covered with our hands) that the bus. It was for us. But a windowless bus with fringes for curtains and admonitions such as “If you have any complaints, write it down on a $20 bill and leave it in this bag up front” and “This bus? Hot hot hot! Driving record? Not so hot!” seems hardly a place to question, for example, why we Americans must make such spectacles of ourselves while traveling, how irritating it must be for locals to hear this bus going through their towns every night, what we’d gotten ourselves into or really anything but why we were still sober. And so we… fixed that and there are no more photos from that evening, do not even ask. The end.

run like hell!

So why am I sharing all of this today? Because all of it — the meltdown, the beaches and even the despicable tourist behavior — was delightfully, goofily perfect, a little bit of sunshine in the middle of an interminable winter. Here’s hoping that the preview of the summer to come was enough to light a fire under my ass get my creative juices flowing again so that this site may be lively once again and that book might appear in stores before you’ve all grown weary of me.

zestedsqueezedboiling and steaming up lensparmesan

And lest you think I’ve forgotten about your own need for sunshine, I attempted a tangled bowl of it in my Valentine’s-A-Day-Late this year, a Southern Italian classic that I couldn’t believe I’d gone so long without. Like other dishes I’ve shared here, it’s best when it is simple — pasta, lemons, olive oil, Parmesan and some heavy cream. Keep reading, I’ll tell you how I did it.

an attempted bowl of sunshine

One year ago: Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Tart and Thick Chewy Granola Bars
Two years ago: Red Kidney Bean Curry and Thick Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Three years ago: Pasta Puttanesca, Broken Artichoke Hearts Salad and Pear and Almond Tart
Four years ago: Vegetable Dumplings and Baked Tomato Sauce

Spaghetti with Lemon and Olive Oil [Spaghetti al Limone]

[Note: There’s a newer, simplified version of spaghetti al limone right here.]

This is one of those recipes that are almost better off without one — every ingredient can be adjusted to taste and the technique is just tossing everything about. I consulted a bunch of recipes but ended up being lured in by Cook’s Illustrated’s January 2011 version, as it had so much less heavy cream and olive oil than the others and the threat of bathing suits was a mere 48 hours away! But, I ended up not using the recipe as more than an outline; I didn’t think shallots belonged in the dish, I wanted more lemon juice and I didn’t care for their resting technique — the cheese just glued itself to the pot and not the noodles when I did this — the “toss, toss, toss!” method I used in last year’s Cacio e Pepe does a better, quicker job.

1 pound spaghetti or linguine
3 lemons
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil , plus additional for serving
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus additional for serving
Ground black pepper
Small handful fresh basil or arugula (what I used, deliciously, in a pinch) leaves, shredded

Cook linguine or spaghetti in well-salted water to your al dente tastes in a large, wide-bottomed pot. (You’ll have fewer dishes to wash if you use this pot to assemble the dish as well.)

While pasta is cooking, zest lemons until you have a little shy of a tablespoon of zest. Juice lemons — you’ll have anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 cup lemon juice.

Drain pasta, reserving 1 1/2 cups of pasta cooking water. Dry out your pot, then boil the olive oil, cream, zest and 1 cup of the reserved pasta water together for two minutes over high heat. Return pasta to pot and stir until coated. Add the cheese and 1/4 cup lemon juice and toss, toss, toss everything together. Add more pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, if you’d like your dish a little looser. Quickly taste a strand of pasta and see if you want to add the remaining lemon juice (we did). Stir in basil or arugula and season generously with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately, drizzling individual portions with a bit of extra olive oil and sprinkling with extra Parmesan cheese.

Leave a Reply to Emma Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New here? You might want to check out the comment guidelines before chiming in.

368 comments on spaghetti with lemon and olive oil

    1. Piper

      Okay, I have to know:
      Is your name PiperSpice in reference to the Spice Girls? Because, if so, I think we may be soulmates.
      A Piper Who Always Wanted to Be Baby Spice, who also loves lemons.

  1. Your Valentine’s Day sounds suspiciously like mine! Minus the spa and Aruba. But there was the cute little boy! who made paper hearts. That made up for the lack of everything else that screams Valentine’s day.

  2. this is my idea of heaven. i can’t get enough lemon, pasta and cheese in my life. i can’t believe i haven’t tried this before. i now have dinner plans for the weekend:)

  3. I have never seen a bowl of pasta look so good. I’m terrible at coming up with ideas for dinner, and tonight, this is what we’ll be eating.

    I had a similar Valentine’s Day gift situation – except I’m 100% positive the let’s-not-do-gifts thought left my head. Then, on Valentine’s Day, BAM! Flowers, a 90-minute massage and a pedicure. Uhh, I don’t do pedicures – he’d know that if he looked at my feet every month or so. Gotta love him for trying though, right?

    Also, HOLY AMAZING VACATION! Your husband is a total keeper.

  4. What an amazingly easy dish. But yeah, now I want it and am nowhere near having it.
    And your vacation always sounds great and jealousy worthy, maybe minus that bus…

    (You do have a typo there… “toss, toss, toss everything toughener.”)

  5. Oh god yes! I love me the lemon goodness. I’m home tonight by myself, but I can make a smaller version just for myself (or make the larger version and eat the entire thing!). I even have all of the ingredients.

  6. Your timing is once again perfect. Late February has decided to dump more snow on us here in the Midwest, and our household needs some cheering up. If it comes in the form of a brightly-flavored lemon pasta, all the better.
    cathy b.
    P.S.We recently got back from a trip to help with the relief work in haiti. Your bus in Aruba reminds me of the “Top-Tops” (aka Haitian “taxis”) that were everywhere down there!

  7. thanks for sharing!! I had a bit of a valentines melt down myself and the week got better as well. :) love this recipe – I’ve been looking for a simple simple pasta dish!

  8. Nanna

    Looks delicious and just what the doctor ordered for this godforsaken NYC winter that just seems to drag on and on (and on). I’ve put it on my menu for tonight :) If this is your thing I recommend checking out Nigella Lawson’s lemon, garlic and mushroom pasta. It tastes just like sunshine in a bowl.

  9. Oh gosh…that Kukoo Kunuku bus is so insane! lol My husband and I went to Aruba a couple years ago and would gaze with horror and embarrassment on behalf of our fellow tourists each time we saw it. We too were concerned about the poor local residents who have to put up with it. I don’t miss seeing that bus, but I do miss those amazing, amazing beaches! Did you go to Eagle Beach? We literally just got back from our 2-week honeymoon in Puerto Rico just a month ago, but seeing these photos is already making me want to go back. How unfair is it that some people actually get to live in that awesome beauty? I mean, I would even put up with Kukoo Kunuku if it meant I could dig my toes into the sand every day right after!

  10. Magdalena

    I made this after seeing it in CI and definitely was unimpressed – I did pretty much exactly what you did but tossed in some peas, but to me, at least, the pasta felt too greasey from the oil and cream and lacked the super lemonyness I had been expecting. I might try it again leaving out either the oil or the cream.

  11. Annie S.

    I love adding lemon to whatever it is I’m cooking – it brightens it up so much! I will be making this very soon. I also can’t wait to make those green beans, yum.
    I love your blog, and have been a faithful follower for quite some time now but I have never commented before. Thanks for the lovely photos and delicious recipes.

  12. Tamara

    Just another example of what I LOVE about your site and recipes: simple, delicious and always the ‘why-didn’t-i ever-think-of-that’ moment! Thanks!

  13. kaberett

    I’ve been doing something similar to this for a few weeks now, just minus the cream and with the addition of tinned artichoke hearts and – occasionally – very finely diced red onion.

    I suspect black olives would also go well. :-)


  14. Anything withe lemon and olive oil is fantastic. Your little trip to Aruba sounded fun and exciting! Nothing like a little warm sun away from cold NYC. Thanks for sharing some awesome photo’s with us.

  15. Any thoughts on how to make this creamy for a lactose intolerant gal? Lactose-free whole milk? Or is there another trick? It looks divine and right up my pregnant – just getting through 2 months of morning sickness – alley! Love your blog and your baby is too stinking cute for words!!

  16. Jules

    Oh Deb, your sense of humor makes me smile every time! You are such a great story teller. Keep on keepin on and good luck with the book. Hope the meltdowns are far and few between. You have big fans of you just being you!! Gonna whip up this lemony deiciousness for the fam tonight ;o)

  17. Dana

    I make something exactly like this. . . except with shallots! But, adding capers really makes a world of a difference so you should try! I also use a combination of arugula and baby spinach to get as much greens into this as possible so I don’t feel as guilty for all the buttery cheesy goodness.

  18. I would have to just say ditto to Jess’s comment above. I just passed this on to a friend going to Aruba next month as a cautionary tale. Oh, and the recipe is getting tried ASAP. I love a good simple pasta dish featuring lemon.

  19. Nicole

    I think I must have this for lunch today! it looks great! Thank you for brightening our cold gray days with your wonderfully bright and warm photos!

  20. The simplicity of the recipe is the guarantee for a great meal. My compliments on a dish that deserves great attention, and if only half the planet that does not cook knew what a wonderful dish this is they would flock to their kitchens and pots
    Greetings from Belgrade, Serbia

  21. Lilly

    Man, I *have* to make this!! It looks so bright and fresh, i absolutely love it! Bookmarking it, because I’m definitely making it next week for me and my daughter. :)

    Also, I’m deeply in love with your blog. I’ve been lurking for a while now but I thought it was about time I came out of my lurkiness and said hello. :)

  22. Julia

    The photos are amazing… That bus is hysterical! (I’m sure being bombed helps to enjoy the ride!!) My husband finishes pasta similar to this, also never measuring any of the ingredients. Your name is much fancier – he just calls it ‘Heart Attack Sauce’ :)

  23. Jayne

    This is probably “backward” from questions you get about eliminating meat for vegetarians, etc., but what recommendation do you have for adding meat to this? I’m thinking bacon? For me, this is perfect dinner, but in hubby’s mind, it would be a side and he’d be looking around for the main dish. If I can make meat magically appear within it, we’d both be happy. Thanks!

  24. This sounds lovely. And I might go make it for lunch. Right now.

    Also, your tour bus story was very hilarious! And I’m totally going to use that line about writing any complaints on a $20 bill. I bet your husband’s boss smirked secretly to himself all weekend…=)

  25. Nicole

    Whenever I make a recipe like this I always forget to reserve some of the pasta water when I strain. How essential is it really? Can I use plain old salt water in it’s place, or is their something important about the pasta having been in the water?

    1. deb

      Nicole — I forget all of the time and just use hot tap water instead. The pasta water is pasta-flavored and starchy, so it does work better, but in a pinch, use the water you’ve got.

      Kristen — The full line was “If you’re happy with your tour tonight, you can leave a few dollars in this bag. If you’re unhappy, write your complaints down on a $20 bill and leave it in this bag.” This woman was lobbing the jokes at us all night; she was awesome.

  26. Sometimes the simplest ingredients make the best dishes. I think I know what I’m making for dinner tonight.

    p.s. I love that sunset picture you posted. What a breathtaking view it must have been!

  27. This post was hilarious, I hope you have an easier/better time with the book, and the pasta looks insanely delicious and refreshing (and I happen to have some leftover cream in the fridge AND a lemon – what luck!). I love love love simple recipes with few ingredients, so I can’t thank you enough.

  28. Eily

    Dammit, woman. I looked at the title of this post. I thought: pasta with lemon and olive oil? Really? She’s totally phoning it in. But I click the link. Oh, I clicked the link. And now I must make this. Soon. I am sorry I doubted. Looking forward to the book!

  29. Lemon and pasta go together so well – there’s something about the acid in the lemon that just works so well with the richness of the pasta (with a little parmesan, of course!). I actually made something like this recently: pasta shells with fingerling potatoes, arugula, fresh herbs, and a little red onion. And, of course, lemon. Simple. But oh so good. And (sigh!) Aruba sounds wonderful. I live in San Francisco where, you would think it wouldn’t be all that cold. But no. It’s supposed to snow here tomorrow night. Snow! In San Francisco! Apparently we are coming to the end of days here or something. Brrrrrr!

  30. K

    For anyone who wants to add a veggie right in there for a one-pot meal, I could see this being amazing with blanched English peas or asparagus once they are out in the markets in a month or so!

  31. Courtney

    This is one of my favoirite flavor combos! In the summer, when I am overwhelmed with zuchini, I get out my mandoline and jullianne long strips of it and add it to the hot steaming pasta as I mix it with the creamy lemony goodness. It’s like summer in a bowl.

  32. Sarah McWeschler

    Welcome back! I made this recipe from my Cook’s Illustrated and followed it exactly as they have it written. It turned out deliciously but I just wanted to add two things:
    1. You are absolutely right about the resting method they use– too much of my precious Parmesan ended up stuck to the pot and not in our stomachs. Your method sounds much more streamlined and logical– Score on this one: Deb: 1, CI: 0 (although maybe they should get a half for printing the awesomeness? hmmmm)
    2. I used the shallots and they added a nice extra dimension. So for anyone out there on the fence, I don’t think you can go wrong either way. Love the pancetta idea, will have to go for that next time (which will be SOON).

    Looking forward to The Smitten Book, no matter when it’s published. Waiting with pen in hand to put the book tour on my calendar!

    1. deb

      Amanda — Nothing happened — though I cannot speak for the people who danced on the bars and, uh, other stuff. We simply had enough bourbon on the rocks that we re-imagined the evening as an awesome time. Came home laughing. Woke up without a hangover. Aruba is magic, man.

  33. Lindsay

    My friend and I were just asking ourselves “How does she possibly cook a million dishes a week and write a book and raise a toddler, etc., etc.??” (as though you’re our friend, which, you are, aren’t you?) — so the meltdown makes you a little more human and lot more endearing. Glad to know that you’re back on track and can’t thank you enough for all the inspiration!

  34. I never considered lemon with pasta for some reason, until I made a grilled lemon chicken and served it over pasta last month. I loved the way the lemony chicken tasted with pasta – delicious! For your lemon pasta dish, I think the using such simple, fresh flavors make for one dynamic meal. What an incredibly simply and wonderful idea :)

  35. charlotte s

    so sorry to hear you were stressing out about the cookbook- i’m sure it’s going to be beyond amazing! i’m so glad you were pampered and went on vacation! hope you’re feeling better :)

    oh and that picture of the spaghetti cooking in the pot is just gorgeous!

  36. It’s funny, how when you grow up within a certain cuisine there are certain things that you never think are actually “recipes” to everyone else. I felt that way about the spaghetti with black pepper and cheese you posted last year. We ate this all the time. It was comfort food at it’s simplest. I think it would be delicious with a piece of salmon broiled with lemon pepper on it. Toss it all together and maybe throw in some asparagus? One bowl meal!

  37. I know what I’m making tonight!

    I can’t believe you went to Aruba for the weekend! From the west coast, the flight is about 7 hours so it’s hard to wrap my brain around.

    For the record, I had a giant meltdown and didn’t get my husband anything for vday yet he made me dinner, got me roses and bought me a heart shaped mousse cake. Oh it’s our first married Valentine’s day.

    Worst wife ever.

  38. sometimes all it takes is a meltdown a weekend getaway to recharge the body, mind & creative spirit…vacations are great too to mix the local culture with a bit of the touristy stuff as well…balance. i am from ny and worked in the city for years…however i still love to go into the city and just “be a tourist” every once in a while. and..i can’t wait to try this recipe. i make a lemony pasta a lot but never thought to add the zest (what was i thinking?!)

  39. pinklemonade

    I’m a lemon girl. I keep one in my purse just in case. but still i couldn’t help wondering…aren’t 3 lemons excessive? does sour take over or the cream balances it off?

    1. deb

      pinklemonade — I note in the recipe, you only use as much lemon juice as you see fit. Of interest, CI seemed to feel that you’d get 1/4 cup from 3 lemons; I got 1/4 cup from 1 1/2 lemons, then stopped squeezing. Mine might have been on the large side, but I still wished I had more lemon juice.

      jen — It’s a 4 hour direct flight from NYC. Jet Blue! Oh, and get this, the plane left early on the way back and we got home a full hour early. And it wasn’t full. This never happens and I couldn’t have been more delighted to get home sooner! We went for a very long weekend.

  40. MJ

    The spaghetti looks wonderful – a great dish to make on Sunday night from stuff I might have lying around. But here’s my question: notwithstanding your embarrassment, do you recommend Kukoo Kunuku to future travelers?

  41. Monica

    Sorry to hear about your Valentine’s Day meltdown. Your recipes actually made ours very special. I made the stuffed shell recipe you developed for Bon Appetit (but as a lasagna instead) and your blood orange olive oil cake. Not quite as humorous as the broken hearts of artichoke & pasta puttanesca of past years, but definitely delicious!

  42. Carla Hinkle

    Lo these many years ago, I participated in a bachelorette party in which we rode around in NEW YORK CITY on a bus identical to that bus. It was loud, it was obnoxious, it was AWESOME.

  43. I used to eat a version of this at least once a week in my early days of living out on my own. I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve made it. It sounds like you had quite the eventful week! How exciting!

  44. Oh I need this spaghetti dinner! I might just have to sub my Greek yogurt for the cream to be able to eat it tonight!

    We went on a long weekend to Barcelona a few months ago. WAS THE BEST- but our flight was a bit longer.

  45. brenda

    i will be heading to Aruba in 2 weeks..i will NOT be on the Kukoo Kanuku bus…been there – done that…but, that calamari looks awesome…could you post what restaurant it is from?

    1. deb

      brenda — It was from a bar on the dock where the Red Sail tour boats go from. Hardly a place I’d recommend, but I about fell off my stool when I saw the girl flouring and deep-frying calamari. Its the kind of place you’d assume pulls things pre-breaded from a freezer case!

  46. Deb, I make this almost the same way, except I use Pecorino Romano instead of parm. I love the saltiness. And I use fresh parsley instead of basil. All around, a GREAT dish anytime of year! It’s my 10 year old daughter’s #1 most requested dish, too! LOVE.

  47. Marie M.C.

    “Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna take ya . . .” That song haunts me whenever I hear “Aruba”. *Sigh.* Love this dish. I sub butter for the cream and use curly parsley instead of basil. I chop it very fine and prefer it over Italian parsley. So sue me. Love dishes that are simple, fast and delicious. Oh and cheap, cheap, cheap.
    Kristen — I live in San Francisco, too. Cannot believe the weather forecast of snow. Oy vey. I need to go to — Aruba, Jamaica, Key Largo, Montego . . . way down in Kokomo.

  48. You know how you enjoyed watching others cook and started missing your kitchen and feeling a little inspired? That is how I feel when you post, I read every word, pour over the pictures and wish I was in my kitchen cooking. Then I start thinking about what I might want to make next, it doesn’t matter if it is anything like what you made, it is your inspiration that started the creative juices flowing. Looking forward to the cookbook.


  49. Deb
    As a long-time reader, sometime commenter and as a maker and lover of your recipes…and also as the mother of a 15 month old hirsute toddler…I have to say…you and your long weekend suck! Waaaah! I need a vacation! It’s February in New England! And your got sleep? It is almost too much for me to bear! (Actually very glad to hear you had a great time and came back re-energized, and of course thanks for the recipe it looks easy and delish and I’m sure it will help me remember summer is on its way)

    Chris in RI at

  50. Stacey

    For those looking for a cream substitute, none is needed. I make a similar dish without any cream or other dairy and it is delicious and refreshingly light. That said, I happen to have a little leftover cream in the fridge, so might have to try it this way for a change.

  51. srs1972

    Oh, lovely. We always do this with artichokes hearts and some grilled chicken. It is soo delicious. Spaghetti gets such a bad rap, too. I’m glad you use it with abandon. I love its roundness. I would never grow tired of you or your website. You have soo much to teach!

  52. Maya

    O you are so funny! Love your stories. And photo captions. And that picture of spaghetti sunburst in a pot. I know it’s winter now (nothing but white outside my windows), but in summer I would serve it with yellow/red cherry tomatoes in the mix, for more color in the bowl.
    @Randi, @ Tiffany – who asked about dairy free and gluten-free – I’d substitute Soy Milk Creamer which is the consistency of half-and -half.
    Deb – the word “have”, after “Zest lemons until you…”, and thanks for this zesty post.

    1. deb

      Maya — Thanks!

      For those looking to incorporate asparagus — I would definitely vote for using this method to shave it into ribbons, still raw, then, toss it back in with the pasta. In that boiling mix, only a minute should be needed (if that). You could use a wider pasta, maybe a fettucine, to keep the shapes balanced.

      Cream — I haven’t made this without cream, however, I imagine it would be just fine, though you might want to increase the olive oil a tad. From the first recipe I read (and I landed on more than a dozen, all with cream in them) I couldn’t get my head around the cream — I guess I don’t associate dairy with Southern Italy, or at least dishes that are more about olive oil and lemons. I imagined that it was a home cook’s adaptation, as it creates more of a sauce. I am, of course, speaking off the cuff because I am not in any way an expert on this dish or the way it was “originally” made. I tried to Google up more of its history, but didn’t find much.

  53. this looks delicious and its so nice to get another recipe; I was getting quite worried & sad. I only discovered this site a few weeks ago, so I didnt know about the book which makes my life better. I can wait.
    I will have to modify this to my allergies; perhaps just lots of dairy-free butter, salt, lemon, asparagus and pancetta will do, with the magnificent corn quinoa spaghetti. nommm

  54. Courtney Ostaff

    I made this tonight with pork cubes, milk instead of cream, the zest of 2 lemons and juice from 1 1/2, 2 cups of chopped red bell pepper, and a generous pat of butter. Yum!

  55. MG

    I love love love pasta and lemon. I will definitely be trying this soon. Also, I love that it is so sophisticated but will be super easy to make after a long day slaving away in an office. Thank you!

  56. Izzy

    I went to Aruba on my honeymoon and I cant believe we missed the Kukoo Kunuku!
    Glad you enjoyed the One Happy Island. I WONT miss this spaghetti though – its on the menu tonight!

  57. Maya

    Oh yes crushed red pepper would be great in it. We do make this lemony pasta with just olive oil (no cream). Probably would keep the shallots in it then. It’s very good without cream, just olive oil and lots of lemon.

  58. Welcome back!! Gorgeous photos; and I’m so glad that it was a great trip in the end.

    By the way, I smiled from ear to ear when I saw you in the recent issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine. I LOVE your site, so it was a true joy to see you featured! Been following your site since 2007.

  59. Spaghetti al limone must have been a great pre-sunny vacation dinner! I made this in January (from CI) and immediately fell in love with it. Oh, the lemon! So good. On the night I made it, I didn’t have any parsley on hand and didn’t think it looked very photogenic. I just ate it without taking any pictures of it, and I didn’t feel the least bit bad. It was one of the most memorable things I have made so far this year, and your beautiful photographs are a great motivator for me to make this delicious dish again ASAP!

  60. Mel

    Ditto on the Rachel Ray comment! I’ve been trying to decide if I really like the magazine (on the fence) and was delighted to see you in it.

  61. I love it that you went on the Kukoo Kunuku!! We went on it a few years ago on a cruise!

    So stupid and so damn fun all at the same time. Oh my the hangover we had!

  62. Pearl

    I am so excited you posted this — I tried the CI version on Friday and had a total fail (the resting technique also didn’t work for me). I was hoping you might take on a version of this!

  63. Hi Deb! Your vacation trip seemed incredibly luxurious! Wish I could’ve gone away too! I plan on making this dish tonight but substituting that heavy cream for Fage 0% Greek Yogurt. I love the tang it gives!


  64. This sounds absolutely delicious. I wonder how well it would go with those last two hot Italian sausages we have knocking around our refrigerator? Hmmm…

    Also, GORGEOUS photos from Aruba and super jealous of your fantastic vacation. But you guys deserve it after working so hard to raise such a cutie!

  65. I think we watched y’all ride by that evening… It’s hard to miss the Kookoo kunuku. :) WHEN (not if) you go again bring your baby. My sis-in-law went every year up till college, including when she was in the womb.
    I always run by the grocery stores and stock up on baking supplies, Kinder Surprise, and chocolate. Ling’s is our favorite, but there’s unique stuff at Super Food and Hong King.
    AND before you leave the US, make reservations at Wacky Wahoo. You will not regret it.

  66. I am eating this as we speak and it is delicious!

    I can’t thank you enough for your recipes that seems to just come in the nick of time. By that I mean, when I am too lazy to put clothes on to pick up groceries (I don’t even have eggs, milk or bread) and thus, I must result to the common stuff I have left lying around in my pantry.

    I ended up I think using more than a pound of spaghetti for this recipe since I never know how to measure spaghetti properly to know what’s enough or not. It seems like it worked for this fine though. I used 1/4 cup of the lemon juice (from 1 lemon) instead of the suggested 1/3-1/2 cup. I ended up using 2 lemons instead of 3 for zest. And I also didn’t end up adding more pasta water after the first 1 cup that I added to the sauce. It’s perfectly lemony, just the way I like it. And still has that great salty balance from the parmesan and olive “oilyness” to bring it all together.

    Thank you again! This recipe is a God send!

  67. Patricia Ann, try to find a pasta measurer. Target has one on their website (just search pasta measure). It has different-sized holes in it to help you measure the right amount of spaghetti/fettuccine/long noodles of your choice for up to 4 servings.

  68. Danica

    We make something similar to this, but lately I’ve been using preserved lemons finely diced to give it the salty lemony kick. Yum! I relatively recently discovered preserved lemons and am having fun trying them out in different dishes. They are very easy to make at home for those who want to give them a try.

  69. Jenny

    I’ve made this similar non-recipe with spaghetti squash too and added some chopped toasted walnuts. For that, I didn’t really make a sauce, just sauteed the squash in olive oil, added lemon juice and zest, some salt, something chopped and green (parsley, arugula, basil, whatever I had) with walnuts on top. yummy.

    And I can’t wait until your cookbook is out! I’m pretty sure meltdowns are standard in the whole book-writing thing. Good luck!

  70. Jan

    I feel a bit guilty adding yet another comment, but I want you to know that I for one am patiently, yet eagerly awaiting your book. It will be wonderful. And take as much time as you need that the publisher will give you. I believe you will feel that it was worth it once it’s FINISHED.

    The pasta looks fab. No need to comment on flying to Aruba for the weekend! Heaven.

    Hang in there, Sweetie, we’re all rooting for you.

  71. Beautiful! I haven’t made this in way too long, and I always lessen the oil and cream too – it tastes better to me that way. Good luck with the book. I feel sure it will be something truly special.

  72. Lisa

    Delicious! Made it last night with the dijon roast chicken from here and a light salad and it was a perfect meal. Like you said, Deb, this isn’t necessarily something that you should follow a recipe to make…just follow your tastebuds! I basically make this dish without the zest and cream (and with a bit more olive oil) all the time. That’s my personal preference, but it was enjoyable to have a creamier version for a change. Thanks, Deb!

  73. Harleydude

    I’ve been making the basic same recipe since my friend’s Mom taught me in High School. Hanging out with Italian momma’s boys was the best way to learn to cook and easily get out of trouble since we were “good boys”. This recipe screams for leftover lobster stolen from your sister’s fridge, fresh steamed shrimp, or poached artichoke hearts. Thanks, Deb. I’ve turned my whole MC club on to your site. Our meetings are starting to sound like a grade school PTO.

  74. Yum. But I have a question. Can you suggest a reasonable alternative to heavy cream? My husband is lactose intolerant, though he can have most cheeses, yogurt, and even buttermilk (since they’re all cultured). Do you think buttermilk would work or would it give too much flavor of its own? Thanks. I love your blog!

  75. Jeannie

    I love this recipe because, it is not finicky about amounts, it does not require any major skill,technique, it sounds like it can be made pretty darn quickly and I love lemons and it sounds like it has great flavor and not only am I a hapless cook but I can tend to melt downs on occasion so I appreciate the story….

  76. Momcat

    Question, only slightly off-subject: what is the best way to store lemons? I like to have them around at all times, but have probably thrown away more than I have used. Anyway, I’m going to use this recipe with some artichoke-heart linguini that I got for Christmas (along with several packages of other exotic flavors). I have been wondering what to do with that and now I know! Thanks!

    1. deb

      Momcat — If I want them to last more than a day or two, in the fridge. It might be different where lemons are local, but not here. However, I get a lot more juice out of them if they’ve been out for a few hours.

  77. OMG this looks really good. We had gone to an Italian restaurant in Mexcico and had this and it was sooo good! I am so glad you encosed the recipe because now I am going to try it this weekend…looks and sounds wonderful!

  78. Mir

    Hi, im one of the followers who dont usually comment.
    But this is my all time favorite dish, i just do it easier way,while pasta boils, im warming little butter and creme fraice on pan, and when pasta is reeady, i add for cream the zest and lemon juice, about 3 lemons worth+ black pepper, then mix everything. Then i add a little of zest,parsley/coriander and gently mix it in. And just a sprinkle of parmesan on top.
    I usually do it with penne or farfalle, cos left overs(not often happens) are so good when made to tunasalad, with peas+peppers+corn.
    Your butternutsquash recipes are my favorites .)

  79. I’ve been visiting here for years, and for some reason this morning is the moment I tip over into comment-land. It’s high time I tell you: you are a joy to read, a source of humor and inspiration in my kitchen. You’re funny as heck, and I think you’re great, no matter how close or far you may be to deadlines. *Thank you.*

  80. Jennifer

    I’ve made quite a few dishes from your site, and every one of them has been delicious. I so enjoy reading your blog and I find your humor to be delightful. I am looking forward to buying your book…so finish the damned thing already! :)

  81. Katie

    Perfect timing, I didn’t know what to serve with salmon and broccoli, and this fit the bill! I used whole wheat pasta, didn’t have cream (and didn’t miss it!) and added a good amount of salt and fresh ground pepper. I think artichoke hearts, capers, shrimp or chicken would be great and make it a complete meal.

  82. Alyssa

    Hooray for lemons and pasta in winter! Also, just want to tell you how much I admire your keeping the blog going and maintaining a sense of humor (at least in public) as your deadline approaches. I have a feeling that it’s not just me our here rooting for you.

  83. Chanel Chu

    this sounds refreshing and zesty! i love pastas that use lemons as their main ingredient. i love the taste of strach mixed with lemon. it also makes me feel less guilty eating the carbs!

  84. I’m not sure when I started adding lemon zest to my pasta, but ever since I learned how wonderful it was, I haven’t been able to stop.

    And I’m LOVING your Valentine’s Day story… and your quick trip to Aruba. It all sounds… perfect.

  85. alright, making spaghetti look sexy in the boiling pot is like making a mom look magnificent straight out of bed.

    i don’t know how she does it.

    (oops. and this looks fantastic!)

  86. Redhairing

    I’ve been making a version of this with creme fraiche, lemon juice & zest, and parmsesan (no olive oil) for ages, inspired by Amanda Hesser’s Cooking for Mr. Latte. It’s great with arugula and small tomatoes, or without the parm & arugula but with shrimp or other seafood mixed in. And so great with Meyer lemons. Yay for lemony pasta!

  87. jayne

    What would you think of making this like a traditional carbonara, with egg instead of cream? I recently discovered the carbonara at Pó and I’m hooked!

  88. I feel you pain on the toddler underfoot thing… it is near impossible to get anything done! A couple of things that have worked with varying degrees of success for us: put him in a backpack. My daughter likes to be up high where she can see the action, and it keeps her hands off. Also, try a couple of tupperwares, some spoons and some dried beans for some side by side cook and pretend play. They are easy to sweep up when you are done. Good luck!

  89. I have been thinking about pasta all day. We’re out of marinara ANYTHING and this is just the thing to satisfy that desire! Thanks for the wonderful recipe–I’ll be making it as soon as I switch the laundry!

  90. Kat

    This looks great – I will definitely be making this on all of those nights I don’t have time for anything, which is pretty much every night considering I work full-time and have a five month old, so I understand the child underfoot thing! As I was chopping peppers for a quick black bean soup last night I found myself chopping with the cutting board on the floor so I could show my inquisitive child what I was doing/keep her entertained while she sat in her bumpo. All of your posts are great – I cannot wait for the book! While the meltdowns must be hard for you, I bet in the end they will contribute to an amazing end result!

  91. Oh, thank you! I am always looking for quick recipes that used food I’ve always got around. Somehow, whip cream has now slipped into my regular pantry foods. There always seems to be a little carton sitting in my fridge, just asking to be used . . . I think it will be very pleased indeed if I use it for this pasta.

  92. Laura

    I have been following your site for around 2 1/2 years and love love love you, your take on life, family, friends and food. You are always my go to source when looking for inspiration….thank you thank you thank you….Your kid is gorgeous…..Thanks for sharing. Oh–the pasta looks awesome!

  93. Looks like a really great vacation. I am still trying to take one from my little kids and the youngest is almost 3. So good job! I will be making this recipe tonight to the delight of a some little pasta eating kiddos. I am hoping for a few kid recipes as your little one gets into food.

  94. Joye

    This sounds fantastic. What’s great about this recipe is that the ingredients can be found in any pantry. Guess what’s for dinner tonight?

  95. Deb, your Valentine’s day sounded amazing. Pizza and How I Met Your Mother…where do I sign up? Glad to hear you are back on track. Breaks and meltdowns are equally as important as creativity and productivity.

  96. Made this last night – then smothered in it avocado sauce (fancy guacamole), spinach and pistachios. My god, I am making it again tonight. SO good + thank you!

  97. marit

    This seems to be my favourite pasta from Bologna. I went back to the same restaurant several times for this dish.They served them with broad tagliatelle, wonderful! Must make tomorrow!

  98. I love that you took a weekend getaway without your toddler. I have a toddler too and sometimes you just need some time to sleep and actually have a conversation for 5 minutes right? Lovely pictures from your vacation and I agree-I hope spring arrives soon. This recipe looks delicious and I would probably add chili flakes for a bit of heat and flavor.

  99. Alexandra

    Love your site and jealous of Aruba trip!!! Have 2 toddlers and a 10 year old at home and you inspire me to try making new things every week. Thanks!!!!Have a question about cream though: it does not curdle when you add lemon juice? I mean, in the end, does the sauce look smooth or has a curdled look to it? Good luck with your book!

  100. O. M. G. This was absolutely amazing! I added the entire 1/2 c of lemon juice … and I used whole wheat capanelli pasta and Meyer lemons because this looked like a recipe that called for only the best ingredients and flavors. Served it with asparagus drizzled in olive oil and a tablespoon of lemon juice with salt and pepper. All in all, a bright orgasmically good dish! Thx. =)

  101. Jill


    We made this as written (with a little less lemon for us) and it was really, really good. We had it with the arugula and a side of fresh peas.

    Your pictures are wonderful. I could feel the breeze. Glad you enjoyed it and are rested.

  102. D

    MMM I just made this with my bf and we loved it, only thing is that it’s very simple and plain, which is delish, but next time I might add some asparagus, peas, or tomatoes. And we didn’t have any bread and it would have been a nice addition.

    Great recipe Deb!

  103. I’ve been reading your blog for years and I’m finally leaving a comment! When I studied in Florence my host mom made something like this and I’ve missed it so much since I’ve been back in California. I made this tonight, using chopped parsley instead of arugula and it was divine. Thank you!

  104. Erin

    Deb, Here’s something I thought I would never say: My mom makes this pasta dish growing up and I love it. I tried your recipe last night and it was way better than hers! And my mother is the best cook I know! Boom! Compliment winner right here.

  105. Simplicity at its best! I know exactly how much a wintertime break from the cold can lift one’s spirits. I was in a horrible mood this season, until my trip to Hawaii! I returned at the end of January, but I’m still in a fantastic mood. Thank goodness for getaways!

  106. KentishSarah

    I made this tonight as a side dish for the Dijon chicken, adding some wholegrain mustard to the pasta sauce.

    It worked brilliantly – a delicious combination.

  107. Thanks for sharing a recipe that looks easy to make with basic ingredients! Can’t wait to try it out. Looks easy enough (even for me) and I love D’s idea about adding asparagus or tomatoes to give it a little more kick. Thanks again!

  108. Chelsea

    There is a Barefoot Contessa recipe that has a similar ingredient list (uses arugula and cherry tomatoes), which I really like. But, as is the case with most Barefoot recipes, it uses so much cream that I always feel guilty making it. I tried this lighter version on Friday and it was so delicious. It also came together so quickly! I decided to use arugula because I was craving that peppery kick, and it was perfect. Even my husband, who tends to be a bit picky about pasta, thought it was delicious. Thanks so much for another fabulous recipe.

  109. Kate S.

    Made this last night and just had some of the refrigerated leftovers for lunch. I’m going to put this out there—it’s really, really good cold and straight out of the container. Perhaps even better than last night. Maybe that’s sacrilegious, but I don’t care. Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  110. Sara

    Had this for dinner tonight and everyone loved it (this never happens). My seven year old ate so much he said he would wait a bit for dessert (this also never happens). Thanks!

  111. Dana

    Perhaps February is just meltdown month, but I’ve, like you, Deb, have had a rough two weeks. But this recipe considerably brightened it! I made it on a whim with some friends and enjoyed quite a wonderful night over a giant pot of pasta. Due to my collegiate lifestyle, I made a few comprises to the recipe (no microplane = limited lemon zest, no heavy cream = skim milk, and no fresh basil/arugula = spring salad mix) and it still turned out wonderfully. I’ve made a few of your recipes and even on a limited budget and severely limited kitchen appliances, they have all be absolutely delicious. Thanks!

  112. This sounded so good, so we went to the store to buy ingredients and we totally forgot about the olive oil! All we had was nasty vegetable oil, which surprisingly, worked for it. But I know for a face that it would have tasted 10x better with olive oil!

    This goes great with some white fish and garlic bread!!

  113. I love lemon – this sounds delicious! And don’t worry about the imperfect Valentines days. They happen to everyone. My Vday this year was spent on the couch eating sushi and watching a Warewolf movie because we were too tired to do anything. :) You can’t appreciate the “perfect” days without the “imperfect” ones. xo

  114. Deidre

    I made this for dinner the other night, and it was super yummy! I served it with some steamed broccoli to round out the meal, and it definitely hit the spot. For dessert, I made the blood orange-olive oil cake from a couple of weeks ago. It was a lot of work to supreme the oranges, but the cake was totally worth it!

  115. Nancy

    I made a delicious knock-off with chopped, preserved lemons in olive oil subbed for the lemons and oil. I use Nigella’s dead-easy lime pickle recipe, sans spices for versatility, and lose the three-week waiting period. They’re addictive — perfect in legume salads, hummus, tabbouleh, with pasta, you name it. My first batch molded in my pantry, but they keep indefinitely in the fridge.

  116. Terri

    I made this for dinner last night. It was wonderful! I used spinach, as that is what I had on hand, very good. I pulled out some noodles for the 2yo, and he had a full bowl before declaring he was “ALL DONE!!”. For those of you that don’t know, this is a huge victory, he has trains to play with, and only so much time before bed, don’t you know?

  117. Monica

    Made this over the weekend for friends and was a huge hit! I added chicken breast (soaked over night in a lemon pepper marinade) and I had a salad on the side topped w/the pickled onions from the green bean/almond salad recipe the other day. My friend who *hates* onions couldn’t stop herself from munching on the extras.
    My mom always tried to get me to help in the kitchen as a kid, but I was bored and uninterested which only turned into intimidation as an adult. It wasn’t until I stumbled on your website a few months ago that I’ve discovered pots and pans don’t bite and I CAN cook… and cook well! When my husband gets home from deployment he’s going to be knocked off his seat! So thank you, thank you, thank you!

  118. Hello! We made the lemon spaghetti last night (only substitution was light cream instead of heavy) and just wanted to tell you it was amazing!!!!! It was the best non red sauce pasta i have ever had. yum yum yum.
    it is for sure going to become a family favorite. im gonna test it on my very picky 23 month old girl soon!
    anyways, love your blog!

  119. Angela K

    I hardly ever comment on here, but how I love your site, Deb. And that photo of spaghetti in the pot is seriously gorgeous.
    Also, I feel your pain with a toddler at your feet in the kitchen, but keep reminding myself it won’t last forever. And you’re giving him such wonderful food made with love.

  120. Miriam

    We made this, and the green bean/almond/fennel salad tonight. They worked really well together. My kids weren’t fond of the past (although we were), but we all loved the green beans. A perfect meal for mid-winter when the temperature has been below -15F for months.

  121. Ariel

    Yum! I just made this tonight, although in my post-grad class haze, I dumped out all the pasta water (just used tap water instead) and couldn’t bear the 10 step walk to my dying window basil plant, so it was sans-basil. I used all the lemon juice and it was so bright and delicious! A definite keeper. +19147 points because it took me 10 minutes to make (boyfriend had water boiling for when I got home). Thanks so much!

  122. Robin

    I made this tonight with lemons from our tree (I will refrain from going mwahaha) and beet greens from the garden and it was OUTSTANDING!!! My husband had seconds and would have gone back for thirds if he didn’t have self control. We both absolutely loved it and will be making it next week too! So simple, easy and delicious. Definitely a staple in our menu rotation.
    AND – the best part – my 11 month old son liked it! First time he ever put spaghetti in his mouth and didn’t spit it out. That right there deserves the Nobel Prize for cookery!

  123. Kate S. who said it’s good cold is RIGHT! I am eating my leftovers that way right now and it is really divine, so refreshing, much better than any cold pasta salad I can recall having eaten

  124. Emma

    This was excellant, I made it with parsley insead of basil – looking forward to fresh asparagus to have with it next time. I think spring is coming back right?

  125. Alexis

    This was fabulous! I used spinach (slightly wilted) for my green, as it is what I had on hand. Absolutely divine. We will definitely be enjoying this again and can’t wait to try it with arugula.

  126. Ahh, so jealous of your vacation! What I would do for some sun right about now…
    Can’t wait to try this pasta, it’s reminding me of your cacio e pepe recipe that you have (and we love). Thanks for sharing!

  127. We made this tonight for dinner but didn’t have any basil to add, unfortunately. I’d love to try it again with basil. We thought it was a little plain, until we drizzled each serving with extra lemon juice. Yum!!

  128. Marianthi

    Ooh, made this last night and it was AMAZING! Thank you! I substituted heavy cream with half-fat creme fraiche, so I used two lemons instead of three to stop it from being too sour but it was all completely perfect. It’s added to one of my favourite pasta dishes of all time. Yea-ha, you heard right!

  129. Trisha

    I’ve never had this before, and it was delicious. I considered using other greens but decided to try basil first. We were suprised that something with 1/4 c olive oil and cream could taste so light. We didn’t have anything on the side. Salad or sausages (veggie for me) would have been good. Our lad had plain pasta and some yogurt, but at least he got to see us being adventurous.

  130. abby

    I made this last night, but I didn’t have any basil and I wanted to get some veggies in, so I steamed and chopped some broccoli to mix in. I ended up adding a lot more lemon zest and more juice than it called for because I like a REALLY bright, punchy lemon flavor, and this was just delicious. Perfect simple, delicious supper.

  131. Emma

    Well, I totally screwed the pooch on this one! I wanted to make it for a bunch of people, but I wanted to practice first… I halved everything EXCEPT the lemon juice! It was awful! I tried to fix it but it is still too tart. I’m not going to make it for my friends now because I’m totally put off by my jacked up version. I’ll make it again one day when I can get some fresh shrimp.
    I’m sure if made right it would have been really wonderful. I am so so sad.

  132. Wanna Lose Weight?

    First off I would like to say that this is possibly the best blog that I have ever been on for recipes – you literally only put up the best (and the pictures are clean and well done!). Secondly I am so sorry to hear about your valentine’s day melt down. This recipe looks amazing and I am going to try it out as I love adding lemon to anything to give it a bit of a kick, thanks for the amazing post.

  133. Jendorf

    Loved, loved, loved this! I am pregnant and have been craving lemon something fierce! This totally hit the spot, and the entire family gobbled it up. I did add a couple of things–I had a red pepper that was needing to be used up, and wanted to add some protein for the aforementioned fetus ;) so while the pasta was cooking, I sauteed the red pepper and the chicken (oh, and some spinach that looked amazing at the market, let it wilt), then added the sauce and pasta, tossed and enjoyed. So, I kinda killed the simple thing, but it was still ready in about 20 minutes, so that qualifies, right??

  134. Ella

    We made this last night, was very tasty. We added a few shakes of chilli flakes to our plates, and it worked really well. Thanks, I suspect it will be on high rotation in our house.

  135. Laura J

    Loved this dish! However, I added pine nuts and capers when I made it last night and then right before serving I topped it off with a little white truffle oil. Yum :)

  136. Becky

    Looks like I may be the only one, but I was disappointed in this dish. I honestly found it a little bland. The lemon flavor was bright and I did use basil, but it just wasn’t enough. I much prefer the America’s Test Kitchen “Linguine with Shrimp Scampi” which is similar to this, only with the addition of (obviously shrimp) hot red pepper flakes and garlic which really add to the lemony flavor and gives the dish some depth. Just personal preference, I guess!

  137. Erin

    After my sister said she had this for dinner, I jumped online and checked out the recipe! We added shrimp to this dish. My husband loved it. My kids, picky as ever at the moment, had shells with pesto. Both great pasta dishes. And easy.

  138. I can’t believe the bus! They have the same thing in Granada, Nicaragua! Except I noticed that there seemed to be more locals riding around on it, it only came out on the weekends, and it appeared to be free. With bass speakers in the back seat. And reggaeton music blaring. I love the endearing wackiness that you can find in other cultures.

  139. I made this but used two handfuls of finely chopped kale in place of your recommended greens as well as whole wheat pasta. My kids devoured it! The kale was a great match with the whole wheat flavor and a tad bit healthier which I’m always striving for!

  140. Kathryn

    I finally got around to making this tonight (with the amazing green beans) and was in heaven the whole way through. Next time I will try real parmesean – unfortunately all I have in my kitchen is the plastic Kraft stuff. Thanks for the recipe – divine!!

  141. Heidi

    Just enjoyed a bowl of this, and then read all the lovely ideas about what to add in. I didnt have any greens on hand, and I think the bacon or pistacio ideas would have helped it out. I think I will add shallots next time but maybe not because how lovely to find a recipe that doesnt require the chopping of an onion.

    BTW, I got 3/4 cup lemon juice from my lemons! They must have been super juicy, and I didnt check the amount until I had them all juice. Maybe I shall make lemonade!

  142. KV


    I just wanted to thank you for all your posts… I have tried so many of your recipes and tips! This dish was perfect. Really.

  143. Nichole

    I love these simple recipes that you post. This pasta dish was wonderful. It will be my new go-to dish when I have no clue what to make. Thanks, Deb.

  144. Janelle

    I made this for dinner last night. I thought that some (cast iron) pan-seared chicken would go well with it, and it did. This dinner felt so fancy but was really easy. It also felt nice and light for a pasta dish. Thanks so much!

  145. BooPatch

    First of all…Your style of writing, shooting straight from your heart or your spatula…LOVE IT! I totally want you in the kitchen with me teaching me how to cook!! Because yes, I am blessed with a spouse who not only loves to cook is really good at it. I do the baking however ;-) But you have spurred me to try some of your dinner recipes (and the homemade oreos which didn’t last a day between my family and extended friends) and this was my first choice. Went a little heavy on the lemon, and I did a lemon pepper seared chicken breast with it. Everyone ate it and said it passed muster! WOOHOO! You are awesome, I look forward to many more delightful recipe reads which I will learn earnestly from :-)

  146. Nikki Renee

    I made this for dinner tonight, after searching for a pasta that my picky guy -who doesn’t like red sauce- would eat. Guess what? All 3 of my preschoolers ate it and loved it! Thank you!!!! You do not know how rare that is. I have a new meal to add to our rotation.

  147. Jane

    Just polished off a serving of this recipe and it was GOOD. I halved all the measurements for less leftovers–I know, impossible, right? Well, not for this single lady. I, too, forgot to reserve the pasta water, and your tip on using plain hot water was perfect; I just boiled the sauce a little bit longer to thicken. The arugula was just the ticket for that peppery tang. I couldn’t be happier…well, maybe. I’m onto the caramel cake recipe for dessert now, so the jury’s still out!

  148. This recipe looks like perfection. Have you ever been to Supper in the East Village? They make a devine Spaghetti al limone, but this recipe looks even better. I will try it out!

  149. I made this recipe last week with the addition of some Italian sausage, it was phenomenal. The lemon is fantastic, I did have to boil it a few extra minutes to get it to thicken but it turned out wonderful.

    thank you!

  150. I’ll be making this come summertime. Perhaps with some steamed asparagus tossed in? Hmmm. Thanks for the recipe and mazel tov on the upcoming cookbook!

  151. Julie

    This was such a perfect dish to lift me out of my winter blues last week… it was so simple and the lemon has such a bright flavor I felt like I was eating a plateful of sunshine. Yum!

  152. Lee

    Really enjoyed this. Super fast and easy to make. Next time though I might saute some garlic and add it. We had this with sauteed string beans. Nice and light meal. Would go perfectly with grilled chicken if you wanted to make it heartier. Another thing I may try next time is to toast up some pine nuts and add those in for a little crunch !

    Thanks !

  153. Susanna

    I’m eating it right now and it’s delicious. I couldn’t even finish to post a comment. So original and yet simple. Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuv it.

  154. This is one of my fave dishes, especially when we are in Buenos Aires. My recent diagnosis of lactose intolerance make this a tough dish but I am going to try with soy milk and see how it goes. Wish me luck!!!!

  155. I have been visiting your website for a couple of years. Checking on and off for new recipes. It’s thanks to your “Spring may come” risotto recipe, that I learned how to make risotto.

    I was pleasantly surprised to read that you went to Aruba for a vacation. I was born and raised on Aruba, but currently living in The Netherlands.

    If you ever go back to Aruba you should try out the local seafood cuisine, I miss it regularly!

  156. nichole

    Holy cow! You and I were in Aruba at the same time, we at the Tamarijn. I thought everyone we ran into were perfectly nice, what despicable tourist events did you witness? We loved the island so much, we’re totally going back (and I’m so a non-beach going New Yorker).

  157. Jenn

    I’ve made this twice now (thanks Deb!). The first time I made it using fresh lemon juice and basil (as indicated in your recipe) and it was absolutely fantastic. The second time I made it was at 11:30 pm after a very long day of work. With no fresh ingredients in the house (and no time/energy to run out and get them), I resorted to using bottled lemon juice and dried basil leaves and it STILL turned out pretty good. Although I would obviously prefer to use fresh ingredients, it’s nice to know you can turn to this in a pinch and still have a pretty good dinner.

  158. Nora

    This was an emergency dinner last week when I was too tired to go out to the grocery store and the cupboard seemed totally bare. But no! I had just about all the ingredients on hand, this came together in a snap and was so good! I had to use chopped fresh parsley for the green component and it worked just fine. I also crisped up a little porchiutto I had and crumbled it on top. It added a nice salty, smoky counterpoint and a bit of crunch. Everyone dined happily. Thanks Deb!

  159. Jackie

    I made this tonight for a friend who can’t do gluten or lactose. I subbed white rice for pasta and coconut milk for cream. It is soooo delicious! Every bit as good as the recipe above (which I made for myself last week.)

  160. Tasty, tasty, tasty. This was an excellent side for our italian pork chops. Very satisfying, but still light. I imagine this will be on the menu throughout the spring and summer.

  161. Lisa

    Hi! I know this is an older post, but I’m new to this site (and so in love with it!) and working my way through the archives. I made this for myself last night and….oh my god, I felt like a gourmet chef! It was amazing how delish it was with just a couple ingredients. I am so excited to have the leftovers for lunch today! Thanks for the wonderful recipe along with the gorgeous photos!

  162. ann

    I made this for company last night and it was UNBELIEVABLE– and I am a horrible cook!! I think it would be wonderful with asparagas or topped with a chicken breast. It tasted so light and made me think it was spring (even though I live in Alaska and it definitely is not)! Thanks so much!

  163. Betsy

    Hi Deb,

    This recipe looks incredible (per usual.) I am planning on making a surprise dinner-for-two for my boyfriend’s birthday next week, and I’d love to make something from your website. Do you have any suggestions for man-pleasing dishes? I would really appreciate your thoughts :)

  164. Katie T

    Just made this tonight, put some simple seared scallops on top. Holy crap. I am counting the minutes until I can eat the leftovers.

  165. Alison

    Thanks for this recipe! I’ve been following your blog for a while, but haven’t had time to cook up any of your creations. I’d heard of a similar dish on The Splendid Table a year or two ago and tried, unsuccessfully, to recreate it from the radio broadcast, so I just had to try this one. Tonight’s venture went very well, thanks to your guidance. I’m looking forward to trying more of your recipes if life ever slows down enough to really get into my kitchen again! Thanks!!

  166. Alanna

    This recipe looks amazing! Your blog is one of the most well written, and always has the greatest images. Pasta is my absolute favorite dish to make, and I can’t wait to make this for my family!

  167. morgan

    I made this with leftover creme fraiche and threw in some roasted asparagus. It was amazing and so quick! Definitely going into the regular rotation. Thanks!

    1. deb

      It serves how ever many you usually serve a pound of spaghetti. In our family, we do smaller portions — 2 ounces if there’s more than one dish, 4 ounces as a main. I know other people like bigger pasta servings.

  168. Just found this recipe and it was just what we were looking for last night for dinner. We had asparagus soup and wanted a simple, ‘bright’ pasta dish to go with it. This was it. :)

  169. Kelly H

    Thanks for a great recipe. I have made it twice now and love it. I don’t really care for zest so I substituted lemon emulsion. Delicious!

  170. This was a great summer dinner. I swapped the cream for kefir and tossed some grilled chicken in there. I would have loved to add some artichokes and shitakes, but did not them on hand. I also did not have any block parm so I subbed with the can stuff (I know, tsk, tsk), but it turned out fine. I have yet to find a recipe on your site that doesn’t have a terriffic ending, so thanks for keeping our family well fed!

  171. Linda

    This recipe makes even rice spaghetti taste good! I’ve added some chopped swiss chard to the boiling liquids and sprinkled some chopped kalamata olives over each bowl along with the basil, and another time topped with a little feta. This is now a favorite, thanks!

  172. Patricia

    I made this for the first time tonight and it was wonderful! I will definitely make it again…in the winter I might add chicken. Thank you!

  173. Melamee

    I tried this recipe tonight and holy WOW! Delicious, we added shrimp to it and it was amazing, so light for a hot summer evening and easy to make! Thank you for the fabulous recipe we will make it again and again!

  174. Ally

    Oh deb! Thank you so much for these simple and freaking delicious recipes, they have saved my temporary apartment bound family from (gasp!) frozen, or take out. It’s like a sin. Can’t wait to try this lovely little recipe!

  175. I’ve been meaning to make this for awhile, and finally did this week. Twice. It’s so good. The first time I made it exactly as written [which was great!], but the second time I changed things up just a bit – I sauteed 5 cloves of garlic in the olive oil and then continued to follow the recipe, and I upped the heavy cream to 1/2 cup [my husband. he wanted more heavy cream]. It made the sauce really … creamy. Ha. But it was very good. I also used linguine, and liked the larger noodles, too.

    Anyway. Thanks for the great recipe! As always, you are spot on.

  176. em

    I made this for my boyfriend today and he had firsts, seconds and thirds then asked if he could take some home! My sauce was a little too watery though. I think I used too much cream. I tried cooking the noodles extra long to thicken it up but they stuck to the bottom(stupid nonstick pan). Still it was delicious. Can’t wait to take some to workfor lunch tomorrow. Im sure my coworkers will be like can I have some. Lol. Oh! And the basil really sets the disk off.

  177. Barbara

    I’m sitting next to an empty bowl and have had to lick the lemon off my fingers, so as not to sully the keyboard while commenting. This is such a great, simple recipe, it will surely become a standard. I like the idea of adding a touch of garlic and think I will throw in some baked broccoli bits to give it a bit more texture. I roast the broccoli on a cookie sheet with a little olive oil until its crisp and usually add the garlic bits toward the end of the baking. This should make for a crunchy green buddy to this sassy, pasta dream. Thanks so much!

  178. Mary

    I made this pasta last night. It was so delicious, I wanted to run and hide with the pot and eat it all myself. I didn’t change the recipe (but I did add all the lemon juice as Deb did). Used arugula, which added a lovely bite. This would make a great summer dish with basil and grilled shrimp. m

  179. Deana

    I was looking for a fresh lemon sauce recipe to go with some whole wheat angel hair and happened upon your site. You had me laughing like two old friends sharing! So glad you had a wonderful break and looking forward now to see your book. I am going to make this tonight! Yum! I love the responses from your viewers as well and so glad I clicked on your site. Looks like I’ll be checking in quite a bit! Thank you!

  180. This was really good! My sister, mommy and I enjoyed it. I think it’s kind of a “chick-food” though, as my father probably wouldn’t be satisfied on just pasta, cream and parmesan – however I really liked this and will probably be making it again!

  181. Amy

    WOW! I have made some lemon pasta recipes before, but……WOW!!!!!! This is amazing! My husband AND 9 year old daughter LOVED this!!!!!!! It’s a definate keeper for the recipe file!!!!!!! Thank you for posting!!!!!!! :)

  182. Jena

    I made this last year after I got my copy of CI. I thought it was great, but not quite lemony for me and I added extra zest and lemon juice. I made it again last night (too lazy to dig out my magazine, I googled for it and found your version)… holy schmoly! The lemon was so strong it was kicking my rear! I ended up adding 2x the cream and some butter to cut the zing of the lemon. I swear I made it the same, I think it’s all in how fresh those lemons are, I suspect last year they’d been sitting in my fridge a while. And I agree with you, 1 and 1/2 lemon was plenty to give me a quarter cup juice.

  183. My mouth was drooling over this one. Though I am lactose intolerant, I had to make this and found that little less cream and a bit more olive oil worked great. AND an unoaked Chardonnay would do great….Australian would be my choice.

  184. Sarah

    Thanks for posting this recipe. I made this last night for dinner guests. Decided to throw some baby shrimp in. It was the first entree on the table to be cleaned out, mostly by my three kids. Victory!

  185. TaraM

    I made this dish tonight, but was out of heavy cream… so I combined this recipe with the Spaghetti with Cheese and Pepper recipe, and upped the cheese to what’s called for in there. The resulting sauce was lemony, creamy, and delicious! Even after I had to cook it a couple of extra minutes, since I added too much pasta water. Thanks for a delicious dinner!

  186. Candace

    I’m having a guest over for lunch tomorrow, and I’m going to make this pasta with Giada DeLaurentiis’ Parmesan crusted pork chops (with lemon). I love using your recipes to make myself look like a master chef! Thanks for such beautiful recipes.

  187. Candace

    What a yummy recipe – my guest loved it! I used less of the pasta cooking liquid (and would’ve preferred even less than I used) and substituted the basil for a hearty scoop of Trader Joe’s pesto. Sensational!

  188. Barbara in FL

    Can’t believe I read/skimmed all the comment and no one asked about substituting lime for the lemon. I have a lime, never tried in this kind of dish but will try it. Often make this without lemon or cream, just the olive oil, some onion, garlic, herb and chili flakes and whatever vegetable(s) I have on hand. Always delicious, but with the citrus, yum! Thanks. If you read this and have any thoughts on lime in savory dishes I’d be most interested to hear them!

  189. Elizabeth


    This recipe sounds so simple and amazing. I have a pot luck to go to and do not know what the reheating situation will be. Do you think this would taste well cold/room temperature?

  190. debra

    i just had this dish at an italian restaurant in ny for the first time. i came home and wanted to make it — i stumbled across your website and tried your recipe. (i just got married a month ago in aruba and had my bachelorette party on the kunuku bus so it really was the perfect fit). the recipe was amazing! thank you!

  191. Lauren

    Simple but really good! I loved the lemon flavor- I had only one lemon so I used the zest and juice from that and added some bottled lemon juice to get the correct amount. I thought the amount of lemon zest was just right, I didn’t want too much lemon flavor. Instead of cream I used whole milk. Would we good with some fresh minced garlic also. I also added some extra cheese and served it with cubed ham on the side for my meat-loving family. Great recipe, my kind of food! Pasta, fresh pepper, cheese… mmm

  192. Leanna

    Made this for my boyfriend & I for a summery date night dinner and we both loved it! Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe :)

  193. After wallowing all day about how I don’t feel good, while my wonderful hubs worked all day and then dutifully did laundry for me… I think I’ll pull my butt off the couch and make this for him. If its made for valentines day then I say he deserves it!

  194. Jennifer F

    We gobbled up this big hit for dinner last night! While eating it, I was reminded of a dish I used to make years ago from an Italian vegetarian cookbook– fettuccine with zucchini, lemon and mint. YUMMERS to both! :-)

  195. Val W

    I absolutely love this recipe and make it frequently enough to offer some yum variations: it’s nice with angel-hair; it’s nice without the cream; it’s nice to substitute the basil/argula with diced steamed broccoli and a shake of red pepper flakes – though I’ve only tried this last variation w/out the cream.
    Deb – have a question if you have a moment. I’ve heard people say this is a good side for fish or seafood. I’ve always thought it was super yuck to mix parmesan with either fish or seafood. Please advise

    1. deb

      Val — If it’s yuck to you, definitely don’t put them together. I personally wouldn’t care for seafood IN a creamy-ish pasta but alongside, it wouldn’t bother me.

  196. Debbie

    Looks amazing. One questions, why the heck would I dry the pot if I’m going to add the pasta water back in? ;)

  197. Mary Bowman

    I love the CI version and make it often, usually with some sauteed largish shrimp, but think I will switch to your version. Just bought a half pound of too-pricey Parm and don’t want to waste any of it! Thanks for your great ideas–you always come through for me when I am burned out in the kitchen!

  198. I was looking for exactly that type of recipe. I already did three of your recipes in less than a week, because they are so easy yet taste amazing and have always a unique and unexpected touch. Thank you for bringing me back to the range!

  199. anne

    Made this with mozzarella instead of Parmesan; and with garlic (mixed on with the olive oil, cream and water) instead of basil. Super delicious. Oh I omitted the zest – still a very lemony flavor, very delicious.

  200. Christina

    I have been making this recipe since I first saw it on your site 3 or so years ago. It is my daughter’s favorite dinner. She requests it more than anything, well actually it’s the only thing she wants me to make…ever. I always double the sauce (not the oil), add fresh broccoli to pasta last 3 minutes and stir in grilled chicken. Tonight, I didn’t have long pasta, so we used fusilli and a package of baby spinach. This version is my new favorite dinner.

  201. Melissa

    Hi Deb – Just wanted to say this was the first real cooking I tried to do, and I never get tired of eating it and making it! I get compliments every time I make it for new friends.

  202. deb

    Hi Heather — The trick with half-and-half is that, with less fat than cream, it’s more likely to curdle against the lemon juice which true cream does not. So, it could affect texture.

  203. KellyDC

    I’ve made this many many (many…) times and I’ve found it works best with pappardelle and halved cherry tomatoes (just throw them in when you sauce the pasta). I’ve also used half and half without it curdling.

  204. Mandy

    Thank you for sharing this to Facebook yesterday. I made this today and decided it tasted happy! What a great way to use the lemons on our tree and arugula from the yard. (My 14 year old son who doesn’t usually care for pasta had thirds. Yay!)

  205. Laura

    I made this for the second time tonight – very tasty! I used half and half because it’s what I had on hand – no issue with curdling when cooked in the order you directed. But I have had issues both times with the parm sticking to everything, including my supposedly nonstick silicone tongs. What doesn’t stick clumps together… any suggestions on how to avoid this? Also tonight I added quartered artichoke hearts (not marinated), and garbanzo beans to make it more of a main course and both were delicious additions.

  206. Liz

    Just made this tonight – so so good! Salted the water generously and found that it didn’t need any more salt after that, especially with the addition of the parmesan. I roasted a bunch of halved cherry tomatoes (olive oil, salt, and pepper), and threw them in, along with chopped spinach (tossed with the pasta until it wilted). So easy with a big flavor pay-off.

  207. Lyn Elkind

    Deb, thank you for this fabulous recipe. I have made it twice for the family. My daughter is allergic to tomatoes and it it so nice to have an alternative to pesto (not that I don’t love that too). It has become a family favorite. We are having friends over for Memorial Day and serving this with sous vide lobster tails. Can’t wait!

  208. This looks awesome. But, how can I save your recipes? I’m so sorry I can’t use Pinterest to save them. I would certainly make a number of them if I knew how to save them! I’m hoping I’m missing something, there must be a way, eh? (Love from Canada.)

      1. Thank you so much, Linda! I’m afraid I have a mac computer that I use for recipe gathering, so your good suggestion won’t work, but I love the idea and you for forwarding it! I’ll see if I can find something in the Apple Store that would at least work with my iPad. Cheers!

    1. Jo

      Buy the Paprika app so worth the $$ I’ve used it for years have 2000 + recipes it does so much including the math for a half recipe or more etc.

  209. Lynda Elkind

    This is absolutely my family’s favorite dinner. We have it with sous vide lobster tails on special occasions and we make an occasion special if it has been too long. A copy of it is taped inside my cabinet door so I never have to look for it. There is no such thing as too must zest, and/or too much of the best parmesan for this recipe. Thank you.

  210. Mary Beth Feldman

    Nice simple recipe with pantry ingredients, easily halved for two people. As a side dish, it would be nice with fish.

  211. Stephanie

    This pasta but made with arugula and rotini is our 100% ride or die, last meal on earth, Tuesday night and we have company pasta. Thank you so much for the recipe, we’ve made it over and over and over again 💕

  212. Lorraine Witkowski

    We absolutely loved this dish!! I have always made a garlic & olive oil pasta, but this is so much better! Definitely a keeper for our family!