Lemon Pasta (also called pasta al limone) is a zesty and bright Lemon Spaghetti dish which hails from Italy. Lemon Garlic Pasta is pure creamy-lemon-garlic goodness. This version of the recipe is vegan because I’m substituting cream with cashew milk and omitting parmesan cheese which is traditionally included. Otherwise, everything else is the same; it’s made with fresh lemon juice, loads of garlic, and garnished with fresh herbs. This Lemon Pasta Recipe comes together in under 30 minutes and works well as either a main dish or a side!
What Is Lemon Pasta?
Lemon Pasta is a traditional Italian pasta dish made with fresh lemon juice, cream, butter, and garlic. It goes by many different names from pasta al limone, to Lemon Butter Pasta, Lemon Garlic Pasta; some even call it Lemon Pepper Pasta. It’s popular in the Southern regions of Italy and is a favorite choice for springtime and summer dinning.
Lemon Pasta Recipe
For ingredient measurements and full recipe details, please see the recipe card below.
- Pasta – I recommend you use either fettuccine or spaghetti since these are the types of pasta traditionally used in this recipe.
- Cashew milk – You can also use almond milk.
- Vegan butter – I use vegan butter in two places in this recipe; I heat it up in the cashew milk and I also use it with the olive oil to sauté the garlic.
- Lemon – Both zest and juice. I only use a half to a whole lemon. Otherwise the lemon flavor can become overpowering. You want tangy, not sour.
- Olive oil – I use extra virgin olive oil because it has a wonderfully warm flavor and adds a lot to the overall composition of the dish. Light olive oils are almost flavorless.
- Pepper – I use red pepper flakes for this recipe but black pepper is also wonderful.
- Fresh herbs – Use either basil or parsley as a garnish.
- Tomatoes (optional) – I love adding pan-seared cherry tomatoes to the top of my Lemon Pasta. They allow the taste buds a little break from what would otherwise be one long zesty monologue.
How To Make Lemon Pasta
- Cook pasta. Follow packaging instructions to cook pasta. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water before draining it. Run cooked pasta under cold water and set aside.
- Heat up liquids with butter. Using a small pot, heat up the cashew milk, butter, and pasta water over medium heat. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Saute garlic. Add 3 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large pot and heat over medium-high; add the garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Do not allow garlic to brown.
- Add pasta and liquids. Add cooked pasta and cashew milk pasta water mixture. Cook for about 3 minutes until flavors combine and noodles become warm. Remove pasta from heat.
- Stir in lemon and pepper. Stir in lemon juice, zest, and red pepper flakes.
- Serve. Serve in individual bowls topped with pan-seared cherry tomatoes and garnished with fresh herbs.
- Don’t overcook the pasta. Pasta should be cooked al dente which means the noodles should still be just slightly firm. Al dente is simply a warning not to overcook your noodles so they become mushy. Cream sauce with mushy noodles isn’t a good thing.
- Add a little lemon at a time. A little lemon juice goes a long way. I would recommend you start by adding juice from half a lemon and then adding more according to taste. Lemon can become overpowering if you’re not careful. You definitely don’t want the lemon flavor to cancel out the garlic and butter flavors.
- Use my Garlic Oil recipe! Anytime I have a good Italian recipe that calls for garlic to be sautéed in olive oil, I break out my garlic oil. Garlic oil is simply loads of fresh garlic blended together with olive oil. It’s so amazing though and I end up using for everything. I drizzle it on top of warm Italian bread, over pasta, pretty much over everything.
What Type Of Pasta Should I Use?
You can pour lemon garlic butter sauce on top of any type of pasta and walk away perfectly satisfied. However, if your goal is to respect the dish by observing traditional practices, you should use either fettuccine or spaghetti.
While pasta al limone can be eaten as a main dish, many consider Lemon Spaghetti to be more of a side because it lacks an appreciable source of protein and is really meant to be a light accompaniment for some other dish. That’s why you may want to consider serving it along with a soup and salad combo. Here’s a quick list of soups and salads that work well with this dish. Oh, and don’t forget the garlic bread!
- Ribollita Soup
- White Bean Tomato Soup
- Kale Caesar Salad
- Shirazi Salad
- Avocado Tomato Salad
- Mediterranean Salad
Lemon Pasta will stay fresh for about 3 to 4 days if refrigerated in an airtight container. To reheat, simply add a tablespoon of olive oil to a pot and heat over medium-low; add pasta and cook until warm, stirring frequently. Additionally, you can add a tablespoon of water if you don’t want to use more olive oil; the point is to keep the noodles from getting burnt or dried out before they’re reheated.
Vegan Italian and Pasta Recipes
- Pasta Primavera
- Vegan Cashew Alfredo Sauce
- Homemade Marinara Sauce
- Vegan Macaroni Salad
- Vegan Mac and Cheese
- Beans in Tomato Sauce
- Beans on Toast
Lemon Pasta (also called pasta al limone) is a zesty and bright Lemon Spaghetti dish which hails from Italy. Lemon Garlic Pasta is pure creamy-lemon-garlic goodness. This version of the recipe is vegan because I'm substituting cream with cashew milk and omitting parmesan cheese which is traditionally included. Otherwise, everything else is the same; it's made with fresh lemon juice, loads of garlic, and garnished with fresh herbs. This Lemon Pasta Recipe comes together in under 30 minutes and works well as either a main dish or a side!
- 12 oz. Package of pasta
- 1/3 Cup cashew milk
- 6 Tablespoons vegan butter
- 1/2 Lemon, zest and juice
- 4 Garlic cloves, crushed and minced
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 Teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 Cup basil or parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 Cup cherry tomatoes (optional), halved
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. When pasta is finished cooking, reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water and drain the rest. Rinse pasta under cold water and set aside.
- Use a small pot to heat up the cashew milk, 3 tablespoons vegan butter, and pasta water. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occassionally to incorporate the melted butter.
- Using a large pot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium-heat; add the garlic and cook for about 3 minutes.
- Add the cooked pasta and cashew milk pasta water mixture to the pot and cook for an additional 3 minutes until noodles are warm and flavors fully combine.
- Remove pasta from heat and stir in lemon juice, zest, and red pepper flakes.
- Serve in individual bowls, garnish with fresh herbs and pan-seared tomatoes.
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