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    Pasta al Limone Recipe

    Published July 12, 2023. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

    This creamy lemon-filled Pasta al Limone recipe is a delicious, easy-to-make creamy pasta loaded with pecorino cheese and tossed with spaghetti. I love making this pasta recipe when I’m in a pinch.

    I am a huge pasta fan and eat it at least once a week. If you’re looking to try out a few new pasta recipes, then you must make my Pasta Pomodoro or Pasta alla Gricia.

    pasta al limone on a plate


     

    Pasta al Limone

    Pasta al Limone is a simple pasta recipe consisting of lemon juice, lemon zest, cheese, and pasta water that is tossed with pasta for a light lemon-filled dish. This may be one of the easiest-to-make, most flavorful kinds of pasta out there. It is like a fettuccine alfredo with lemon.

    This is a popular dish in Southern Italy, and Sicily, especially during the hot summer months. It’s specifically common in the Amalfi coast and the Sorrentine peninsula in Southern Italy, where they grow some of the largest, most fragrant lemons in the world. This dish has a long history as it is said to be dated to the Roman period.

    Ingredients and Substitutions

    pasta al limone ingredients
    • Oil – Always use expeller-pressed olive oil. This can be extra virgin or just virgin olive oil.
    • Butter – I exclusively use unsalted butter in all my cooking and baking to control the salt content.
    • Lemon – You will need the zest and juice of fresh lemons.
    • Cheese – You can use pecorino Romano or Parmesan Reggiano.
    • Pasta – I like using spaghetti or linguine in this pasta al limone.

    How to Make Pasta al Limone

    Add the oil and butter to a large saucepan and heat over low to medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes.

    heating oil

    Next, add in ½ of the lemon zest and cook for 2 to 3 minutes to help release some of the lemon flavor.

    adding lemon zest to oil

    Pour in ½ of the lemon juice and cook for 2 to 3 minutes to concentrate the flavors of the lemon even more. Set the pan aside.

    cooked lemon zest

    Drop the dried pasta into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 7 to 8 minutes or until al dente.

    boiling pasta

    Next, drain the pasta and add it to the lemon butter saucepan.

    adding pasta to a pot

    Immediately add ½ cup of the hot pasta water along with the remaining lemon juice, lemon zest (reserve a little bit for garnish), cheese, salt, and pepper. You may need to add more hot pasta water to the pan while tossing it.

    adding pecorino romano into a pot of hot pasta

    Toss the pasta repeatedly and vigorously to melt the cheese and emulsify it with hot water and pasta to make it creamy. The sauce should not break or be stringy. If you are nervous that the sauce will not come together, start by sprinkling in and tossing the pasta with half of the cheese. Once it’s mixed in, toss it with the remaining cheese.

    tossing together pasta al limone in a pot

    Add the pasta to a bowl and serve it with additional cheese and lemon zest.

    finished past al limone

    Make-Ahead and Storage

    Make-Ahead: This is meant to be eaten as soon as it is finished being made.

    How to Store: Cover the pasta and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. This will not freeze well.

    How to Reheat: Add the desired amount of pasta to a medium-sized saucepot and add in 2 to 3 tablespoons of water, and heat over low to medium heat while continually gently stirring with a spoon until hot. Adjust seasonings and serve.

    Chef Billy Parisi

    Chef Notes + Tips

    • Any pasta shape will work for this recipe.
    • If you are using fresh homemade pasta, note the timing of assembling this recipe, as fresh pasta will only take 1 to 2 minutes to cook.
    • Figure 2 tablespoons of lemon juice per person.
    • Al dente means to the tooth. The pasta should be firm but not hard or chalky.
    • Cooking time can be saved if you drop the pasta right after you saute the lemon zest in the butter and olive oil.
    • Add 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil or mint for a little more flavor.

    More Pasta Recipes

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    Pasta al Limone recipe

    5 from 31 votes
    This creamy lemon-filled Pasta al Limone recipe is a delicious easy-to-make pasta loaded with pecorino cheese and tossed with spaghetti.
    Servings: 4
    Prep Time: 5 minutes
    Cook Time: 15 minutes

    Ingredients 

    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • Zest of 4 lemons
    • Juice of 4 lemons, ; this should total close to a 1/4 cup
    • 1 cup packed freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese + more for garnish
    • 1 pound dried spaghetti pasta
    • coarse salt and pepper to taste

    Instructions

    • Add the oil and butter to a large saucepan and heat over low to medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes.
    • Next, add in ½ of the lemon zest and cook for 2 to 3 minutes to help release some of the lemon flavor. This pasta has big bright, bold lemon flavors. If you want to tone it down, use the zest and the juice from 3 small to medium-sized lemons.
    • Pour in ½ of the lemon juice and cook for 2 to 3 minutes to concentrate the flavors of the lemon even more.
    • Set the pan aside.
    • Drop the dried pasta into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 7 to 8 minutes or until al dente.
    • Next, drain the pasta and add it to the lemon butter saucepan.
    • Immediately add ½ cup of the hot pasta water along with the remaining lemon juice, lemon zest (reserve a little bit for garnish), cheese, salt, and pepper.
    • Toss the pasta repeatedly and vigorously to melt the cheese and emulsify it with hot water and pasta to make it creamy. The sauce should not break or be stringy. If you are nervous that the sauce will not come together, start by sprinkling in and tossing the pasta with half of the cheese. Once it’s mixed in, toss it with the remaining cheese.
    • Add the pasta to a bowl and serve it with additional cheese and lemon zest.

    Notes

    Make-Ahead: This is meant to be eaten as soon as it is finished being made.
    How to Store: Cover the pasta and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. This will not freeze well.
    How to Reheat: Add the desired amount of pasta to a medium-sized saucepot and add in 2 to 3 tablespoons of water, and heat over low to medium heat while continually gently stirring with a spoon until hot. Adjust seasonings and serve.
    Any pasta shape will work for this recipe.
    If you are using fresh homemade pasta, note the timing of assembling this recipe, as fresh pasta will only take 1 to 2 minutes to cook.
    Figure 2 tablespoons of lemon juice per person.
    Al dente means to the tooth. The pasta should be firm but not hard or chalky.
    Cooking time can be saved if you drop the pasta right after you saute the lemon zest in the butter and olive oil.
    Add 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil or mint for a little more flavor.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 761kcalCarbohydrates: 86gProtein: 23gFat: 36gSaturated Fat: 17gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 71mgSodium: 309mgPotassium: 280mgFiber: 4gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 629IUCalcium: 295mgIron: 2mg
    Course: Main Course
    Cuisine: Italian