Pasta al Limone

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Pasta al Limone is a simple summer pasta that’s creamy, bright and deliciously lemony. The combination of butter, lemon zest and juice, heavy cream and pasta water, gives you an intensely craveable pasta recipe. Serve this with my Limoncello Tiramisu and an Aperol Spritz for the most delicious Italian dinner.

Pasta al Limone in bowl.

I’ve recently become obsessed with Italian food. I want to read about the different regions, and talk for hours about different pasta drying techniques. It’s become a recent fascination and this recipe is a by product of that.

I love everything from traditional, more authentic recipes like my Cannelloni and Pasta alla Nerano to even untraditional more American takes on recipes like my Tiramisu Pie and Calzone. All delicious!

Where is Pasta al Limone From?

Pasta al limone is a famous summer pasta dish that is actually made all over Italy. In my research, I was assuming I would find that its origins were going to be in the South of Italy, maybe Capri or Amalfi Coast, but in fact, it’s made all over. But it is made in abundance in the South during the summer months.

Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Pasta al Limone

Ingredients for Pasta al Limone on counter.
  1. Lemons – I like using the zest and the juice.
  2. Heavy cream – This, along with the pasta water is going to give us a nice delicious sauce.
  3. Garlic – Flavor.
  4. Parmesan-Reggiano – You can use Pecorino Romano too.
  5. Good pasta – I love a good pasta. I chose a pasta shape called Malfaddine but use what you like!

For the rest of the ingredients, please see the recipe index card below!

Pasta al Limone in bowls with wine.

How to Make Pasta al Limone

  1. In a medium pot filled with salted water, bring to a boil and add the pasta.
  2. In a medium to large skillet or saute pan, set over medium heat, add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the garlic, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and a few pinches of salt.
  3. Remove about 1 cup of pasta water.
  4. Add the heavy cream and 1/2 cup of pasta water to the sauce. Cook it on a simmer for about 3 minutes. This will thicken the sauce.
  5. Using tongs, add in pasta, along with the cheese and mix vigorously for 1 minute. This will ensure an even coating of the sauce. You want a nice glossy sauce.
  6. Serve it up. You can garnish with black pepper or minced Italian parsley. And maybe even some lemon slices for added cuteness.

Tips and Tricks

  • The biggest key to a good pasta sauce? Pasta water. It’s like the specialty ingredient that makes every sauce THAT much better. It’s glorious.
  • Use the zest and juice. In this recipe, you really need the zest AND the juice. It adds such a punch of brightness to an otherwise overly fatty dish.

Recipe FAQs

Can I use something other than heavy cream?

You can use half & half. If you use whole milk, the sauce will most likely break because of the added lemon juice. I would refrain from doing that. You could add all pasta water and let it cook down with the lemon juice and zest. It will obviously be less creamy but still be delicious.

What does ‘al limone’ mean in English?

It means “lemon-scented”!

How long should I cook the pasta?

I always like cooking it for 1 minute less than the directions on the package. I then cook it for 1-2 minutes in the sauce and I find it really adheres to the sauce best when it finishes cooking in the pan with the sauce.

Pasta al Limone in bowl with lemons.

More Cozy Recipes To Make

If you tried this Pasta al Limone Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below. Thanks for visiting!

5 from 11 votes

Pasta al Limone

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 2
Pasta al Limone is a simple summer pasta that’s creamy, bright and deliciously lemony. The combination of butter, lemon zest and juice, heavy cream and pasta water, gives you an intensely craveable pasta recipe.

Ingredients 

  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Zest from 2 lemons
  • Juice from 2 lemons, (about 1/3 cup lemon juice)
  • 16 ounces pasta of choice
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup pasta water
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano , about 2 ounces
  • Handful of Italian parsley, minced

Instructions 

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
  • In large skillet, set over medium heat, add the butter. When melted, add the minced garlic, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and a few pinches of salt. Turn off the heat and turn your attention to the pasta.
  • Meanwhile, in the pot that’s boiling, add the pasta and cook it until about 1 minute under al dente. We’re going to cook it a bit longer in the pot with the sauce.
  • Remove about 1 cup of pasta water. To the sauce, add the heavy cream and 1/2 cup of pasta water. Cook it on a simmer for about 3 minutes. This will thicken the sauce. Add the pasta, along with the cheese and mix vigorously for 1 minute. This will ensure an even coating of the sauce.
  • Plate it up and top it with a sprinkling of Italian parsley or black pepper.

Notes

Tips and Tricks:
  • The biggest key to a good pasta sauce? Pasta water. It’s like the specialty ingredient that makes every sauce THAT much better. It’s glorious.
  • In this recipe, you really need the zest AND the juice. It adds such a punch of brightness to an otherwise overly fatty dish. 
Equipment: 
Le Creuset Braiser | Olive Oil Dispenser | Tongs | Colander

Nutrition

Serving: 2g | Calories: 450kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 32g | Cholesterol: 129mg | Sodium: 29mg | Potassium: 39mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 234IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Like this Recipe? Please Rate & comment below!

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Hi! I'm Adrianna and this is my cozy space on the internet that is super-charged by butter, flour and copious amounts of pasta. Stay awhile, will you!

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26 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This comes together so quickly and it’s so delicious! It feels both rich and light at the same time. I love pairing it with roasted zucchini and adding either spinach or kale.

  2. would 8 ounces {1/2 pound of pasta} be enough for this amount of sauce also for 2 people?

    It sounds delish, must try

  3. 5 stars
    This was delicious! My kids ate it up and asked for seconds. I didn’t change anything in the recipe, it was perfect as is.

  4. 5 stars
    Love this recipe so much, it’s my go to with some grilled chicken. I tried a few others from BA & NYT and both are too heavy. This one is light and has a great punch of lemon. I can stretch this into two meals easily.

  5. I usually don’t branch out with new recipes, but I decided to try this one! It was tasty; however, I found the lemon to be a little overpowering for my taste. I’d make it again, but cut the amount of lemon in half and double the garlic.

  6. his reminds me of when we were in Italy in 1998. I found an English book that showed recipes from different regions. It came in handy when we stayed in Amalfi in the off-season and most of the restaurants were closed. We had a room with a kitchenette and did some Italian cooking. Amalfie had lemons the size of grapefruit and I made a recipe similar to this. I am definitely going to make it again! Thanks for the memory. Tree Service Fort Collins