Dinner Tonight: Lemon Linguine

The name itself—singsongy and alliterative—was enough to convince me. Then I noticed it had 7 ingredients, which includes salt and pepper—so let's say 5 ingredients. Little chance for anything superfluous to get between the two main acts—just a little Parmesan for creaminess, olive oil to soften the citrus, and basil for color and freshness. Along with Spaghetti with Oil and Garlic, this is comfort food, out-of-the-pantry cooking, with no ingredients left to be taken out of the dish. There would be nothing left.

After searching for a couple recipe variations (I decided against Paula Dean's approach, which adds a carton of sour cream), Giada De Laurentiis seemed the most sensible: while the pasta cooks, a little emulsion of lemon juice, olive oil, and Parmesan is whisked in the serving bowl, seasoned with salt and pepper, then tossed with the cooked pasta and some of its water. Lemon zest is sprinkled on top, along with some chopped basil. This lets you adjust the sauce right in the serving bowl before adding the pasta, so that the puckery lemon doesn't overwhelm.

If a bowl of pasta without much else doesn't appeal, this would make a nice bed for a piece of seared chicken, or tossed with a couple sautéed shrimp.

Dinner Tonight: Lemon Linguine

About This Recipe


  • 1 pound linguine
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves


  1. 1

    Bring a large pot of salty water to boil.

  2. 2

  3. 3

    Cook the linguine until al dente. Reserve a cup of the cooking water, then drain and add to the serving bowl. Toss until well-coated; the heat from the pasta will melt the cheese and help it stick to the linguine. Add some cooking water if the pasta is dry or claggy.

  4. 4

    Serve with a little sprinkled lemon zest and the basil leaves.


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