Author Notes: This creamy, dreamy lemon-Parmigiano pasta is the ultimate last-minute meal. The sauce is quickly assembled as the pasta boils away and is made up entirely of items you should always have in your pantry: dry pasta, lemon, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and olive oil. The magic ingredient here is the pasta cooking water, which takes the starch from the cooking pasta and uses it to bind the lemon juice, grated cheese, and olive oil to make a perfect pasta sauce.
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 25 min
organic lemons, juiced and zested
cup extra-virgin olive oil
cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and more for serving
pinch Salt and pepper
pound spaghetti or angel hair pasta
large fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
- In a medium bowl, combine the lemon zest and juice, olive oil, cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a few generous grindings of black pepper; mix vigorously so the cheese “melts” into the oil and lemon juice. Taste, adding more salt and pepper to your liking; set aside.
- Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil (1 tablespoon of salt for every 6 cups of water). Cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
- Return the drained pasta to the hot, empty and pour over the lemon-Parmigiano sauce, tossing with up to 1/2 cup of the reserving cooking water (to start) to make a creamy sauce that clings to the strands, adding more water as necessary. Add the basil and toss once or twice just to incorporate. Serve immediately with more grated Parmigiano, as desired.
Photo by Ty Mecham