Spaghetti al Limone with Poached Chicken

Spaghetti al Limone with Poached Chicken

A fresh, light, pasta dish. [Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti]

Notes: Chicken is sliced horizontally to even out the thickness of the breasts to ensure even cooking. To chiffonade basil, stack leaves and roll up lengthwise. Slice into thin strips.

About the author: Yvonne Ruperti is a food writer, recipe developer, former bakery owner, and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Easy Artisan Bread. You can also watch her culinary stylings on the America's Test Kitchen television show. She presently lives in Singapore working on her new baking cookbook, and as a recipe developer for HungryGoWhere Singapore. Check out her blog,, or follow her on Twitter @yvonneruperti.

Every recipe we publish is tested, tasted, and Serious Eats-approved by our staff. Never miss a recipe again by following @SeriousRecipes on Twitter!

  • Yield:Serves 4 to 6
  • Active time: 30 minutes
  • Total time:30 minutes
  • Rated:


  • 3 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
  • 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 2 medium breast halves)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups basil leaves, chiffonaded or finely chopped, stems reserved
  • 1 pound dry spaghetti
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup zest and 5 tablespoons juice from 3 to 4 lemons
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling over pasta
  • 2 ounces parmesan cheese, finely grated, plus extra for serving on the side


  1. 1.

    Bring chicken broth to simmer over medium heat in medium saucepan. Add chicken breasts, 1 teaspoon salt, and basil stems to broth. Reduce heat to low and gently simmer until chicken is just cooked through (160°F), about 12 minutes. Transfer to plate and when cool enough to handle, shred with two forks into bite size pieces.

  2. 2.

    While chicken is cooking, bring 5 quarts water to boil over high heat in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta. Cook to very firm al dente. Reserve 2 cups pasta water and drain pasta. Rinse briefly under cold water to stop pasta from cooking.

  3. 3.

    In pasta pot, bring 1 cup pasta water, cream, and zest to simmer over medium heat. Cook for 1 minute. Whisk in 1 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and oil. Return pasta to pot and toss with parmesan, chicken, lemon juice, and basil over low heat for about 1 minute to warm through and for flavors to absorb, adding more pasta water as necessary to loosen. Season to taste and serve immediately, drizzling with extra olive oil and extra grated parmesan.