Roman Treat, Part I: Lemon Spaghetti

The other day I had the most intense craving for pasta with lemon. It was really, really intense. It was almost as bad as the time I had a craving for Steve's Key Lime Pie and contemplated going out during a blizzard to get one. Anyway, back to the pasta...
I thought about adding artichokes and white wine to my pasta with lemon, but after doing an inventory check, I was out of luck. I didn't have those ingredients in my pantry and going out at 8 p.m. wasn't an option. So I took out my copy of "Everyday Italian," confident that I would be able to find something I could adapt. I had tons of lemons and spaghetti so that's where I was going to start.
After thumbing through the cookbook for about 2 seconds, I stumbled upon "Lemon Spaghetti."  Fantastic!  Could the stars be any more perfectly aligned?!  Only a few ingredients were needed in addition to the pasta and lemon, and I had all of them on hand (olive oil, parmesan, salt, pepper and basil leaves).  
This is not the most complex or unique pasta to come out of my kitchen, but it is unbelievably simple to make and the lemon-citrus flavor just pops.  It's like "light comfort food," if there is such a thing, and it hit the spot.   I paired it with Giada's Italian Caesar Salad with Polenta Croutons (featured in this post).  I made the polenta the day before and it was sitting in the refrigerator.  All I had to do was heat it up in a fry pan, with a little bit of oil, over low heat.   I chopped up some romaine lettuce, thinly sliced some sun-dried tomatoes, grated a bit of parmesan and toasted some pine nuts.  The vinaigrette, which contains fresh lemon juice, was made in about 2 minutes and dinner was served in no-time at all.  
Tip:  When you need to extract juice from a lemon, roll the fruit back and forth a few times to release the juice.  I see Giada do this all the time on her show...
Bon Appetito! 

Lemon Spaghetti (Courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis)

Serves 6.  


  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 2/3 cup olive oil (I used a little bit less...some where between 1/3 cup and 2/3 cup)
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves


Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes (I let my pasta cook for 10). Meanwhile, whisk the oil, parmesan, and lemon juice in a large bowl to blend.
Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with the lemon sauce, and the reserved cooking liquid, adding 1/4 cup at a time as needed to moisten. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon zest and chopped basil.

Italian Caesar Salad with Polenta Croutons