Lemon Garlic Pasta

by Josh on July 12, 2011

I picked up this recipe years ago from The Gourmet Cookbook and it’s been a summer staple ever since. Pasta makes a spectacularly cheap and delicious meal, but it’s tough to handle heavy sauces in oppressive heat, and marinara can be a bit predictable. Instead, this pasta dish is barely sauced, with a refreshing and utterly gorgeous lemon tang that lights up your mouth. Simplicity at its finest.

The pasta is really the star of the dish. The sauce is just a backup singer. Be sure add a good amount of salt to your pasta water. This enhances the flavor of the pasta and keeps the whole dish in balance. The pasta only absorbs a bit of the salt, so don’t be bashful; you want your water to taste like the sea. Literally. And if you happen to have some truly great dried pasta like Rustichella D’Abruzzo on hand, now’s the time to let it shine.

Lemon Garlic Pasta

Recipe adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook (Page 204)
Serves 4


Water for boiling
Salt (preferably Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, but any will work)
1 pound angel hair pasta
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
zest and juice of 2 lemons
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Stir in enough salt to make the water taste like the sea (about 1 tablespoon per quart, but maybe less if you use a different kind of salt).
  2. When water returns to a boil, add angel hair. Cook one minute less than package directions (about 3 minutes).
  3. Meanwhile, combine oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, and crushed red pepper in a 12″ skillet over low heat. You’re not looking to cook things that much, just warm it through.
  4. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, drain the pasta, and transfer to the skillet. Stir to combine everything (tongs are the best tool for the job).
  5. Stir in parsley.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Megan July 12, 2011 at 9:02 am

I agree–lemon pasta is a fantastic summer staple! I recently made a similar dish and loved it. Also, beautiful photos! :)


Josh July 12, 2011 at 12:43 pm

@megan it really is delicious. i love the idea you have on your blog of adding asparagus, sounds like a great combination!


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