Sicilian Lemon and Pepper Pasta

Sicilian Lemon and Pepper Pasta literally bursts with sunny Mediterranean flavor, and it takes just minutes to throw together this wonderful meatless 30 minute meal!

This simple pasta dish is just the kind of thing I rely on to get me through especially busy weeks. Everything can be found in the pantry, except the lemon, and if you don’t keep a supply of fresh lemons on your counter then I can’t help you 😉

Italian lemon and pepper pasta

This pasta has got some serious lemon flavor, serious red pepper heat, and serious oil cured olive action going on. It’s a blend of sharp flavors mellowed out by the pasta that I keep coming back to in one way or another. Simple vegetarian pasta dishes like this one are made really rich and satisfying when you don’t hold back on these strong Mediterranean flavors.

I’m trying out a new strand pasta I found yesterday. Fedelini is finer than thin spaghetti, but slightly thicker than angel hair. I love fine pasta, but I have trouble working with angel hair, it clumps and doesn’t toss with other ingredients easily, at least for me. I like this one because it’s not too much starch, and doesn’t overwhelm my beautiful flavors.

The lemon is important in this dish, so I used a sharp vegetable peeler to slice off the entire rind. Use only the yellow part; the white part tastes bitter, like biting down on a lemon seed. The rind gets ground up with the Parmesan cheese in a small food processor, so the lemon flavor is as strong and fresh tasting as possible. Lemon cheese…yum.

The walnuts are for garnish, but they add a lot, and I think they’re a nice change from pine nuts. I can’t believe how much fresher and crunchier walnuts are when you get them right out of the shell. This is the season when the stores have whole nuts available, and I highly recommend grabbing some. I don’t have a nut cracker, so I gently bashed them with a small hammer. Worked great!

These amounts aren’t sacred, it’s more the combination of flavors that is important. Change them up according to your taste. Oil cured olives often come with their pits intact, I found that my cherry pitter did a quick job of pitting them.

I can pretty much guarantee that this pasta will blow you away, as long as you use good quality ingredients.

Sicilian Lemon and Pepper Pasta pin

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4.75 from 4 votes

Sicilian Lemon and Pepper Pasta

Sicilian Lemon and Pepper Pasta literally bursts with sunny Mediterranean flavor, and it takes just minutes to throw together this wonderful meatless 30 minute meal!
Course dinner
Cuisine Italian
Total Time 15 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Author Sue Moran


  • 1 large lemon washed and dried
  • 3 1/2 to 4 oz Parmesan cheese cut in chunks
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • 1 heaping Tbsp crushed red peppers
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 cup whole black oil cured olives pitted
  • fresh parsley
  • salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 3/4 lb Fedelini or thin spaghetti


  • chopped walnuts


  • Peel the zest from one lemon. Be sure to get only the yellow part. Put it in a small food processor with the cheese, and process until both are finely ground. You should have about 1 cup when you're done. Set aside.
  • Cook the pasta according to the directions, until just al dente.
  • Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the crushed red peppers and garlic. Heat gently and let the peppers and garlic sizzle for a minute or two to infuse flavor into the oil. Don't brown the garlic.
  • Add the juice of the lemon, and the salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the cooking water.
  • Add the pasta to the pan, along with the lemon/cheese and enough reserved pasta water to make a creamy sauce. Toss well with the parsley, and garnish with chopped walnuts..
  • Serve right away
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.


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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    December 16, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    This pasta sounds so amazing. Lemon is my favourite.

  • Reply
    The Café Sucré Farine
    December 14, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Yum, sounds like my kind of dinner, all the ingredients I love!

  • Reply
    Kelly Senyei (Just a Taste)
    December 14, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    I absolutely love using citrus as the star in any pasta dish and those big, salty olives are the perfect accompaniment!

  • Reply
    Mary Younkin
    December 14, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    So, I see the red peppers on the plate, but I don’t see them in the final pasta pictures. Are you crushing those tiny dried peppers for the red pepper flakes? Because if you are, you are BRILLIANT! I had to buy a ginormous bag of them for Kung Pao Chicken this past week and was just wondering how many years it will take for me to use them up. It never even occurred to me that I could do that!

  • Reply
    December 14, 2012 at 1:20 am

    I am loving this. Especially the lemony flavors with the heat and the brine. I love stuff in-between spaghetti and angel hair! You sound like me during tech week at the theatre – grab a meal and go. Saving this.

  • Reply
    December 14, 2012 at 4:19 am

    Lemon pasta is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Great recipe.

  • Reply
    December 13, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    This pasta sounds amazing–simple and pungent and super fast. Although I think I may use already-pitted olives when I git it a try! 🙂

  • Reply
    December 14, 2012 at 3:08 am

    You are so down real with your postings.. you always make e smile or laugh out loud.
    Thanks for another beautiful post and zesty sounding pasta idea.
    We will have to try it.
    Your pasta puttanesca was an instant hit… and is a repeat performance star.
    I am sure this dish will bring on some pasta competition at our house.

  • Reply
    belleau kitchen
    December 13, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    beautiful pasta… love the lemon peel… now that’s the taste of sunshine… can you send some our way please?… oh and by the way, here in the UK it is illegal to drive whilst eating, just not many people know it… you’d better check!… now my mind is saying ‘go get a burger’ but my heart is saying ‘eat bowl of pasta’… damn you!

  • Reply
    the gardener's cottage
    December 13, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    lemons and pasta just go together, no?

    this looks and sounds so fab and i think it is illegal to eat and drive, isn’t it? well i think it is. haha.

  • Reply
    SavoringTime in the Kitchen
    December 13, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Don’t you hate those comments above? Blogger usually does a very good job of keeping them off my blog but they still end up in my email box to quickly delete. I’m surprised this one make it through.

    What a gorgeous pasta, Sue! That is something I’d love to try.

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