This Lemon Garlic Pasta is perfect for a quick and easy summer dinner. It is fresh and light and so easy to make.
Ready in just 20 minutes, this pasta dish is an easy weeknight meal. Spaghetti tossed with garlic, lemon zest, and olive oil. Add some fresh herbs, maybe some parmesan, and dinner is served.
Serve it with a salad and some bread for a fuss-free dinner, or this delicious pasta also makes a great side dish for some grilled chicken, seared steak, or some delicious seafood.
This is a simple pasta recipe! Pasta noodles, fresh lemon, butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, and some fresh herbs are all you will need, along with the best free ingredient you can get! The starchy pasta cooking water!
It is such a quick dish; it is one of my go-to pasta recipes when I want to eat in 15 minutes!
Top tip: If you don't have an electric kettle, which boils water in under two minutes, put a pan of water onto the heat before getting ingredients out of the cupboard or refrigerator. It will save you time.
This is a simple recipe, so you want to use the best quality ingredients.
- Pasta: You want a long pasta noodle for this recipe so that it can be easily coated with the sauce. Any long pasta will work - spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, pappardelle, or bucatini.
- Extra Virgin Olive oil: Use oil to cook the garlic. Use an excellent quality oil as this is the basis of the sauce.
- Garlic: Use fresh garlic and thinly slice it; it is less likely to burn.
- Lemon: Use a fresh lemon. You will need the juice and the zest.
- Butter: This adds richness to the sauce, but you can leave this out if you want to keep the lemon pasta dairy-free.
- Soft Green Herb: Parsley is perfect here; finely chopped and added at the end of cooking, it gives an extra flavor to the dish. You could also use fresh basil or oregano. Thyme would also work, but add it to the oil with the garlic, so the woody herb has time to soften.
- Parmesan cheese: Totally optional! It tastes good, but this pasta is so delicious and light without it. Be sure to add a little extra salt if you aren't using parmesan.
- Cooked Proteins: Add some leftover protein to the pasta. It works perfectly if you have some leftover cooked chicken or pork. Or add cooked shrimp and smoked salmon. With cooked proteins, add them to the butter sauce to heat through before adding the pasta.
- Raw Proteins: Chicken, pork, salmon, and seafood are all great here. Fry them off in the skillet before you cook the garlic. Tent the cooked protein with foil and set them to one side while you cook the rest of the dish. Then add them back in when you add the pasta and allow them to reheat gently.
- Summer Vegetables: This lemon garlic pasta works well with summer vegetables like asparagus, peas, artichoke, or spinach. Blanch them in the pasta cooking water for 2 minutes, then add to the finished dish.
- Winter Vegetables: Add some roasted carrots, parsnip, fennel, celeriac, or a mixture of them, to this pasta to change the summer vibe into a perky winter pasta. Or try some sauteed green cabbage.
- Cheese: The parmesan cheese in the recipe is optional, but you can mix it up if you add cheese. Try pecorino or goat cheese for the same zing. Or go creamy with some mozzarella or some cubes of creamy brie. Crumbled ricotta would be a great creamy hit as well.
- Pangratatto: These toasted breadcrumbs add a deliciously crunchy, crispy element to the pasta. Recipe coming soon for a variety of pangratatto options.
What to serve with Lemon Garlic Pasta
We will have this pasta as a main for a quick and easy meal. Adding a couple of easy sides to complete the dinner:
- A Simple Salad
- Sautéed Sugar Snap Peas with Chilli Salt
- Roasted Fennel with Parmesan and Chives
- Fig, Ricotta and Prosciutto Salad
- Spinach, Grape and Blue Cheese Salad
- Garlic Bread
This is also perfect for serving as a pasta side dish; try adding it to a meal for a delicious fresh side next to:
- Prosciutto Maple Salmon
- Lemon Pepper Pork Chops
- Easy Crispy Lemon Pepper Chicken Breasts
- Greek Salmon with Lemon and Dill
- Italian Chicken Breasts
- Oven Baked Snapper Parcels
What wine to serve with Lemon Garlic Pasta
Lemon is a tough cookie when paired with wines as it lessens the acidity of any wine, making the wine taste sweeter and softer.
My first choice would be a Prosecco; the brightness and bubbles are perfect against the sharp zingy favors of lemon. Or embrace the acidity of the pasta with an off-dry Gewurztraminer. If you add some protein to the pasta, then a well-chilled Vermentino would work.
For red lovers, try a Valpolicella, it is quite a high acid wine, and the sharpness of the lemon will soften and round out the wine wonderfully. Or a herbal (rather than fruity) pinot noir could balance the acidity.
If you make this Lemon Garlic Pasta, don't forget to come back and comment. You can also tag me on social media.
Any questions about the recipe? Use the comments section below.
Lemon Garlic Pasta Recipe
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 12 oz dried pasta
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves - peeled and finely sliced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 lemon - juice and zest
- 2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper - to taste
Cook the Pasta
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the salt and cook the pasta for 1 minute less than the packet suggests.
1 tablespoon salt
- Once the pasta is cooked, reserve 2 ½ cups of the pasta cooking water, and then drain the pasta.
While the Pasta is Cooking
- Add the olive oil to a cold frying pan, add the sliced garlic, stir to coat the garlic, then place over medium-low heat and then for 4-5 minutes until the garlic is soft.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 sliced garlic clovesa
- Add the butter and ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.
2 tablespoons butter
pasta cooking water
- Boil this mixture for a minute, then add the drained pasta, keeping the frying pan on the heat.
- Add a further ½ cup of pasta water and toss and stir the pasta in the sauce until it is cooked to your liking. You might need to add more pasta water.
pasta cooking water
- Remove the pan from heat and stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, and parsley. Season to taste and serve.
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper - to taste
So simple and delicious! I love using simple ingredients like lemon and garlic to really let a dish speak for itself, and this one does that perfectly. A great quick and easy dinner that is filling but fresh and light at the same time. Perfect!
Claire McEwen says
So happy you liked it and thank you for taking the time to come back and comment
Mandy Applegate says
This will now be my 'go to' weeknight pasta dish - delicious!
Claire McEwen says
Oh that makes me smile! It is such a quick and delicious recipe I just know you will keep making it 🙂
Yay! Dinner made easy and delicious. My kids loved it too.
Alex Bala says
This is a great quick dinner. I added chicken for some protein and it was perfect for the fam!
Claire McEwen says
Chicken sounds the perfect addition 🙂
This lemon garlic pasta was a light and refreshing simple meal!
The flavors in this dish are amazing! I can't believe how easy it is but it is so good! The family ate every bite and requested it for dinner again soon!
Claire McEwen says
Oh I am pleased they enjoyed it 🙂
My kids love it too, I often serve it with a chicken schnitzel and it is one of there favourite dinners!
I love a simple meat-less meal every once in awhile. Your pasta recipe was a great tasting dinner that I was able to make in a very short amount of time.
This pasta is so comforting and addictive. Love the combination of lemon and garlic here!