Pasta al Limone

This pasta dish, with its creamy, tangy, lemon sauce, has long been a favorite in my household. It’s the sort of dish that takes so little time to put together but also really seems to impress guests, so we make it both for ourselves on lazy evenings at home as well as when we’re entertaining (I love having at least one easy, quick-to-prepare dish on the menu). We make it so often, in fact, that this recipe made its way into my second cookbook, Acquacotta, which was inspired by six months we spent living on the southern Tuscan coast, where lemon trees abound. 


  •  Salt

  • large lemons, preferably unwaxed and organic
  • ounces Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/3 cup)
  • 12 ounces fresh tagliolini or other long pasta
  • tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, finely grate the zest of 2 large lemons. Juice the lemons. Finely grate 2 ounces Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese (about 1/3 cup). Start the sauce.

  2. Heat 4 tablespoons unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the lemon zest and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and simmer for 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup heavy cream and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

  3. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the sauce and cook over medium heat, adding some of the pasta water as needed, until the pasta is well coated and glossy with sauce. Serve immediately with the grated cheese.


Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 days. Reheat with a splash of milk or cream.


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