Lemon Basil Pasta is my kind of comfort food! Linguine lightly coated in a creamy lemon sauce, tossed with fresh basil, and served up in less than 30 minutes is a quick and satisfying weeknight dinner.
lemon basil pasta brings summery flavors to the table, year round
Lemon and basil were meant to be together, they bring out the best in each other. Right now I have the luxury of lots of bushy basil in my backyard, but I know I can brighten the darkest days of winter with this sunny dish, lemons and basil are a supermarket staple, thank goodness! This meal is just as welcome on a late summer evening on the porch as it is by the fire in December (when lemons are at their peak!)
lemon basil pasta ingredients
It’s amazing what 6 ingredients and less than 30 minutes can get you for dinner
- pasta, of course. I used linguine, but almost went with bucatini. I think any strand pasta would work.
- the perfect amount of heavy cream makes for a satisfying dish without being too much. Distributed throughout a full pound of pasta, 1 cup of cream coats the noodles nicely but doesn’t make for a heavy, saucy experience.
- lemon, I use the zest and the juice for the best flavor payoff.
- a generous 3/4 cup of fresh basil leaves balances the flavor of the lemon without overwhelming it. If you love basil, though, feel free to use even more!
- salt ~ be sure to heavily salt that pasta water, too!
One of the easiest and most dramatic sauces you can make is a simple combination of lemon and cream. Fresh lemon juice blends with the cream without curdling (due to cream’s fat content) and even thickens it slightly, to make an instantly luxe sauce with a zingy flavor. Perfect for quick pasta nights! Any number of add-ins will vary it up. One of our favorite family meals is Farfalle with Salmon, Lemon, and Peas, and Creamy Lemon Asparagus Pasta is another.
what goes with lemon basil pasta
Pasta is one dish that really calls out for a salad, especially when there’s a creamy sauce involved. Fresh crisp greens balance out the starch in the pasta and make an elegant meal. I’d make my Chopped Italian Salad, or a simple Greek salad to go with this. If you want to double down on the creamy factor, you can’t go wrong with a classic Caesar salad.
lemon + herbs (they were meant to be)
- Creamy Lemon Dill Salmon
- Meyer Lemon and Rosemary Focaccia
- Ziti with Sausage, Lemon, and Sage
- Asiago Lemon Thyme Shortbread
- Whole Baked Trout with Herb Salsa
- Roberta’s Lemon Herb Fish (in parchment paper)
Lemon Basil Pasta
- 1 lb dried pasta (I used linguine)
- 8 ounces (1 cup) heavy cream
- zest of 1 lemon
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup finely shredded fresh basil leaves, plus more for topping
- black pepper and shredded Asiago or Parmesan cheese, for serving
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Lightly toss with a little bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking together, and set aside. Reserve a cup of the pasta water.
- While the pasta is cooking, add the cream to a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt, and stir to combine. Add the butter, cut into a few pieces, and stir it in until melted. (You may want to taste your cream sauce at this point and add a little more lemon juice if you'd like)
- Add the shredded basil leaves and stir them into the cream sauce.
- Add the cooked pasta to the saucepan and toss everything together to combine. Add a little of the reserved pasta water to loosen your sauce, if needed.
- Serve immediately topped with more shredded basil, or small basil leaves, pepper, and a generous shower of cheese.