This one pot lemon garlic pasta is a deliciously flavourful dish that's easy to knock together for a weekday dinner when you're short on time. The combination of lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, parmesan and basil provides a bright, tangy pasta dish that will leave you coming back for seconds.
It takes as long to make as it takes your pasta to boil. Make the sauce whilst the pasta is on the stove and just stir it through when it's cooked. Dinner's on the table in 15 minutes flat.
For more quick dinner ideas, try this easy pea fritter recipe, satay chicken stir fry with udon noodles or these chicken rissoles.
What's to love about this lemon garlic pasta
- Makes a nice change to the usual 'heavy' pasta dishes. It's fresh and light
- Takes only 15 minutes to make
- No lemon wastage, you will use all of the lemons, zest and juice
- Easily scalable for a larger dinner crowd
- No cream
Key ingredients and substitutions
The pasta - This recipe just works really well with linguini, but you can use any type of pasta you prefer. I am a big advocate for supermarket brands, but with linguini I find it's best to buy the best brand affordable to you. Other pastas to try would be bow-tie, fusilli, tagliatelle, fettucine, spaghetti, angel hair pasta and even orzo.
You can ditch the pasta all together and make a super healthy version with zucchini/courgette noodles instead.
Butter - We used unsalted butter. If you're using salted butter, add a little less salt.
Olive oil - You can use virgin, extra virgin or any good quality flavoured olive oil that will compliment the the dish.
Garlic - We will use two teaspoons of minced garlic. If you feel adventurous and you have time on your hands, roasted garlic is absolutely delicious in this dish. You might need to add a little more garlic because the roasting process tones down the sharpness of the garlic somewhat.
Herbs and spices - Basil, you can adjust how much or little you'd like to add. Dill and parsley are also really good herbs to consider adding. Add a good few grinds of black pepper. It really shines in this dish.
Lemons, lemons, lemons - You will need about three small-medium lemons for this dish to provide you with 70ml fresh lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of lemon zest. This is an estimate and it will obviously depend on the size lemons available to you.
Grated parmesan cheese - A lot of it, 100g. However, it's an expensive cheese, so you can replace it with Pecorino Romano, Grana Padano or Piave.
How to make it - Quick summary
- Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions and drain in a colander. Return to the pan.
- Whilst the pasta is cooking, make the pasta sauce by combining all the remaining ingredients, bar the parmesan.
- Stir the sauce and then the parmesan through the hot pasta and serve.
- Use good quality linguini or pasta and ensure you have enough water in the pan for the pasta to boil, with room to spare. Often times the problem with pasta sticking together is due to not enough water and a too small saucepan. Pasta needs a lot of room and water to cook successfully
- Don't forget to zest the lemons first before juicing them, otherwise you will kick yourself. It sounds obvious but I have made this mistake before when in a hurry!
- Make it meaty with added cooked chicken, prawns, shrimp, tuna or salmon. Add your meaty additions at the same time as adding the pasta sauce and parmesan and heat through
- Stir in some anchovies for extra depth
- Add red pepper flakes/red chilli flakes for a bit of heat
What to serve with lemon garlic pasta
- Top with generous lashings of more freshly grated parmesan, basil and pepper
- Serve with a crunchy green side salad
- Serve with Panzanella Toscana salad
- Add garlic bread
- Serve as a side to chicken or fish
- Serve with chilli oil on the side
- Add a dollop of roasted garlic butter on top
- Serve with crispy, chilled white wine
Storage and reheating
This will keep well covered in the fridge for up to 3 days. It can be frozen but pasta do tend to go quite soft from freezing. Reheat in the microwave.
Lemon garlic pasta (ready in 15 minutes)
For the pasta
- 250 grams linguini - or pasta of choice
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the sauce
- 40 grams melted unsalted butter - add a little less salt if you're using salted butter
- 60 millilitre olive oil
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons chopped basil
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest - this is roughly the zest of about 3 small lemons
- 70 millilitre lemon juice - freshly squeezed
- few generous grinds black pepper
- 100 grams grated parmesan
Cooking the pasta
- Add the linguini to a large saucepan with the salt. Cover generously with water. You need about an inch of water above the pasta. This provides enough room for the pasta to cook freely without the strands sticking together
- Cook according to package instructions, or until al dente. As a guide, it should take about 10 minutes from boiling point
To make the pasta sauce
- Add the melted butter, olive oil, minced garlic, chopped basil, lemon zest, lemon juice and black pepper to a jug or bowl and whisk together with a fork
How to assemble the pasta
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain in a colander and return the pasta to the saucepan. Add the sauce and gently stir through. Lastly, add the grated parmesan and toss through
- Once served into bowls, top with more salt (if required), pepper, fresh basil and lashings of freshly grated parmesan
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