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lighter pasta al limone recipe from the faux martha

Lightened Up Pasta al Limone

  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 3-4 servings 1x


This recipe for Lighten Up Pasta al Limone was adapted from Bon Appétit, with less butter and cream but every bit as delicious. Grab a sweet Meyer lemon for this recipe, though any will do. Oh, and don’t forget to heavily salt the pasta water. You’ll thank me later.


  • 1 meyer lemon, for zesting and juicing
  • 1 tbsp. + 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 12 oz. spaghetti noodles
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 c. pasta water, divided
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into slices
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan, plus more for garnishing


  1. Bring water to a boil, using a little extra than normal. We’re going to use some of the starchy water to bring the sauce together. Once the water comes to a boil, heavily salt, about 1 tablespoon. Feel free to eyeball it. Cook noodles according to package directions, until al dente, slightly undercooked. We’ll finish cooking them in the sauce.
  2. When the pasta has about 4 minutes left, begin making the sauce. Using an OXO citrus peeler or a very sharp paring knife, cut several large hunks of the meyer lemon peel off, about 1/3 of the lemon, being sure to omit the white pithy parts. Thinly slice and set aside.
  3. Zest the rest of the lemon into a saute pan. Add the heavy cream and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Steal about 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water from the pot to get things started. Whisk together and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Then whisk in the butter slices one at a time until creamy.
  4. Once the pasta has finished cooking, reserve 1 additional cup of the starchy water. Set aside. Drag the al dente noodles into the sauce using tongs, tossing to coat. Pour in the parmesan and toss to coat. Cook for about 4 more minutes over low heat, adding in more starchy pasta water as needed to keep a creamy sauce.
  5. Remove from heat and squeeze about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice over the pasta. Taste and adjust as needed. Plate to serve. Garnish with the prepared lemon peel and additional parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with something green, like curly parsley, for color. 
  • Prep Time: 5 min.
  • Cook Time: 10 min.
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