Lemony Pasta with Spring Vegetables

Lemon Pasta Primavera

Add whatever veggies you have on hand and voila! Dinner.

Add whatever veggies you have on hand and voila! Dinner.

This is a variation on a Cook’s Illustrated recipe for spaghetti al limone, a great recipe in its own right. I’ve modified it to add spring vegetables, using whatever I had on hand, to create a makeshift primavera.

The heavy cream makes the recipe sound daunting and heavy, but 1/4 cup spread out across the 8 servings in a pound of pasta results in only 1/2 Tbsp cream per serving.

I blanch my vegetables separately, and they’re listed as such. Why? Because the Tiny Kitchen Assistant isn’t particularly fond of anything touching his pasta.


  • 1 pound spaghetti or long noodle of your choice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, separated into 1 Tbsp and 3 Tbsp
  • 1 medium shallot, spring garlic head or garlic clove, grated on the microplane zester
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 oz freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp shredded fresh basil leaves


Bring 4 quarts salted water to boil in a large stockpot over high heat. Add pasta. Cook according to package directions, until al dente. Reserve 1 1/2 cups cooking water, drain pasta and set aside.

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in your now-empty pasta pot. Add shallot/spring garlic/garlic and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook until softened, about 1-2 minutes. Whisk reserved pasta cooking water and cream into pot; bring to a simmer for 2 minutes.

Remove pot from heat. Add pasta and stir until coated. Stir in remaining 3 Tbsp oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, cheese and freshly ground pepper.

Cover and let pasta stand 2 minutes. Toss to coat with sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add basil and stir. Toss with vegetables (below) and serve with additional cheese.

Suggested Vegetables

Blanch the vegetables until al dente.

  • 6 stalks asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • Peas, fresh or frozen
  • Mushroooms
  • Tomatoes


Two thumbs up from the guys. The Tiny Kitchen Assistant wants the leftovers for school lunch, and happily chowed down on the cooked carrots and green beans that were carefully separated from his pasta on his plate.

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