Recipe: Zingy Lemon Sauce for Pasta

How can something with such basic and so few ingredients be so delicious?


It's mid May and the weather in Tuscany is starting to heat up. Finally, warm sun on skin and clear blue skies. We've had our first few lunches outside, and naturally and unthinkingly, what we want to eat and cook transforms along with the weather. This pasta sauce is exactly what one craves as the seasons change. It's refreshing, zingy, and light, but unfailingly and lip-smackingly delicious! And you won't believe how easy this creamy lemon pasta is to put together.

A bright and intensely lemony sauce is made simply by bringing together a ladle of the pasta cooking water, Parmesan and a little butter, with both the juice and zest of lemons. We flavour it with a little garlic and basil, and that's all! 

Sauce for 4 medium servings of cooked pasta (best with linguine/tagliatelle/spaghetti):

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, whole, peeled

Zest and juice of 2 large lemons

Handful of grated Parmesan cheese

1 tbsp butter

Salt and Black pepper

Fresh basil (optional)

1 Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat with the garlic cloves. Let the garlic cook for a few mins, turning occasionally, until lightly browned on all sides. Then remove it from the pan and discard.

2 Add the lemon juice and zest into the pan. Add plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Simmer for a couple of minutes.

3 Add the butter and some chopped fresh basil. Simmer and stir for a further minute. 

4 Add the cooked pasta into the pan along with little of the pasta cooking water (perhaps 50ml), the Parmesan and a pinch of salt. Mix well until the Parmesan has melted and you have a creamy sauce. If the mixture seems too dry, add a little more of the pasta water to make it saucier. Or if too wet, simmer and stir a little more to thicken

5 Serve!