Welcome to our delightful recipe for Creamy Garlic Lemon Pasta. This dish is an indulgent fusion of tangy lemon, aromatic garlic, and rich cream, tossed with perfectly cooked spaghetti. Its tantalizing flavors and creamy texture make it an irresistible main course for both weekday dinners and special occasions.
This recipe is not only delicious but also time-efficient and easy to prepare. With just 15 minutes of cooking time and a few basic steps, you’ll have a restaurant-quality pasta dish right in your home kitchen.
The quantities detailed in the following guide are designed to serve two to three people, making it a perfect choice for an intimate dinner. If you need to serve a larger group, simply adjust the quantities proportionally. Now, let’s dive into the flavorful journey of making Creamy Garlic Lemon Pasta.
- Spaghetti: 400 grams - The main body of our dish, spaghetti lends itself well to the creamy sauce, but you can use any pasta of your choice.
- Garlic: 4 large cloves - Adds a fragrant and flavorful base to our dish. The garlic will be thinly sliced.
- Lemon: 1 whole - We'll use both the zest and the juice from the lemon to infuse our sauce with a refreshing citrusy note.
- Parsley: 10 grams (optional) - This can be curly or flat leaf parsley. We'll use it for a hint of freshness and color, and also as a garnish.
- Olive Oil: 1 tablespoon - Used for sautéing our garlic.
- Unsalted Butter: 1.5 tablespoons - Adds a silky, rich flavor to the sauce.
- Thickened Cream: 1 cup - This serves as the base for our creamy sauce. Any cream with a fat percentage of about 36% should work.
- Parmesan Cheese: Freshly grated for serving - Parmesan adds a savory depth and slight saltiness to the dish.
- Salt and Cracked Black Pepper: To taste - Used to enhance the other flavors in the dish.
- Garlic: Lay a garlic bulb on its side, push down to crush it and remove the cloves. You'll need four large cloves. Before you peel them, remove the woody tips as they can be quite hard in the cooked pasta. For peeling, lay the side of your knife blade facing down on a clove and push down to crush, this will allow the peel to come off more easily. Once peeled, thinly slice the cloves.
- Lemon: Start by slicing off one end of the lemon to allow it to sit flat. Next, gently slice off the zest of the whole lemon. Try to remove as little of the white pith as possible. Once done, slice the lemon in half. We're only going to need the juice from half of the lemon, but you can save the other half for another dish or drink. If any pith remains, lay the zested half flat and gently slice it off. Thinly slice the cleaned peel into julienne cuts, also known as matchstick cuts. Keep a few strands aside for garnish.
- Parsley (if using): Give the parsley a rough chop, making sure to remove any large leaves or stems. This will be used to finish off the pasta and as a garnish.
- Pasta: While the actual cooking of the pasta will happen in the next steps, it's good to have the pasta ready to be plunged into boiling water when the time comes. Measure out 400 grams of spaghetti or the pasta of your choice.
Cooking the Pasta
- Boil the water: Start by placing a large pot of water over high heat. Add a lid and allow the water to come to a boil.
- Season the water: Once the water is boiling, remove the lid and add a generous amount of salt. The salted water will season the pasta as it cooks, contributing to the overall flavor of the dish.
- Cook the pasta: Add the measured spaghetti into the boiling water. Stir occasionally to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Cook the pasta for one minute less than the packet instructions. This is to ensure the pasta is 'al dente', meaning it still has a slight bite to it, as it will continue to cook when mixed with the sauce.
- Reserve some pasta water: As the pasta is cooking, take a moment to scoop out about a cup of the pasta water. This starchy water may come in handy later to thin out the sauce if needed.
- Drain the pasta: Once the pasta is cooked to al dente, transfer it directly from the pot to the pan with the prepared sauce. It's fine if some of the pasta water comes along with it; in fact, the starch in the water can help the sauce adhere to the pasta better. You can also drain the pasta through a sieve if you prefer.
Creating the Sauce
- Heat the pan and add fats: Place a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and unsalted butter. Allow the butter to melt and mix with the olive oil, forming a rich base for our sauce.
- Saute the garlic: Once the butter has melted, add the thinly sliced garlic along with a pinch of sea salt. Stir the garlic, gently frying it for about a minute. Be careful not to let the garlic brown too much, as it can become bitter.
- Add the lemon: Next, add the thinly sliced lemon zest (remember to keep a few strands aside for garnish) and the lemon juice. Stir and continue cooking for about another minute. This allows the lemon juice to reduce slightly, enhancing its flavor and infusing the garlic into it.
- Introduce the cream: Add the thickened cream to the pan. Season it to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Stir well to combine all the flavors, allowing the garlic and lemon to infuse into the cream.
- Simmer the sauce: Bring the mixture to a light boil, then reduce the heat to low. Allow the sauce to simmer and slightly reduce, which will cause it to thicken. This should align with the remaining cooking time for the pasta.
Combining Pasta and Sauce
- Transfer pasta to sauce: Once your pasta is cooked al dente and your sauce is simmering and slightly reduced, it's time to unite them. Carefully transfer the pasta directly from the pot into the pan with the sauce. Bringing along a bit of the pasta water is perfectly fine—it will help the sauce adhere to the pasta.
- Add parsley: If you chose to include parsley, now's the time to add it. Reserve a bit for garnishing, and add the rest into the pan.
- Fold and cook: Gently fold everything together, allowing the pasta to fully coat in the creamy sauce. Let it cook for one final minute. This extra cooking time will help the pasta finish off cooking and allow the sauce to thicken up and coat the pasta thoroughly.
The presentation of a dish is like the wrapping paper of a gift—it enhances the overall experience. Follow these tips to make your Creamy Garlic Lemon Pasta as visually appealing as it is delicious:
- Serve up: Use bowls or plates to serve the pasta. You can stack it high for an appealing, hearty look.
- Garnish: Remember the lemon zest strands and parsley we set aside? Sprinkle them over the pasta as a garnish, adding color and extra flavor.
- Final touches: Grate some fresh parmesan cheese over the top of the pasta. It not only looks great but adds a nice salty, umami flavor that balances well with the acidity of the lemon. Finally, add a few turns of cracked black pepper on top.
With these steps, you’ve created a beautiful and delicious dish of Creamy Garlic Lemon Pasta, ready to impress and delight. Enjoy!