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Cook: Creamy Lemon Pasta with Spinach

This is a re-do.  Lemon pasta, a personal favorite of mine, was one of the first things I posted on my site.  Back then it was just about talking food–what I ate, what it tasted like, and then sometimes just random information about my day.

The random information has stayed constant, and for that, you’re welcome.

But back then I didn’t take many pictures and I didn’t post recipes.  I learned the hard way about the recipes when a friend of mine tried to make my Spicy Cajun Pasta and put over a tablespoon of cayenne pepper in the sauce because I didn’t specify how much was “enough.”  I realized that for the select few that read this, I have a responsibility to provide some sort of guidance, even if it’s not perfect.

Hence, the re-do.  You all should know about this recipe.  You should make it so much that it becomes part of your weekly routine just like it has mine.  I owe that to you.

You could add some grilled lemon chicken or spicy Italian sausage to the mix if you are the type of person who needs meat on their dinner plate, or you could serve as is.  It’s a stand alone dish that’s filling yet refreshing.

If I were by myself in Boston, I would have served this in a bowl accompanied by some quality TV, like Homeland or The Bachelor.  It’s funny because they’re nothing alike.  It’s sad because it’s true.  I watch The Bachelor.  But since I was home, and my dad was my sous chef, we added a teensy sprinkling of pancetta on top.

Absolute upgrade.

Here’s the recipe!

Creamy Lemon Pasta with Spinach (Originally adapted from Cooks’ Illustrated but the recipe can be found at Smitten Kitchen)


  • 1 pound spaghetti or linguine
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 lemons, juiced and zested (should yield about 1/2 cup lemon juice)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup half and half or heavy cream (I used fat free half and half)
  • 2 handfuls fresh spinach (or arugula if you have it!  that’s my preference)
  • salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese for serving
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Reserve some of the cooking liquid and drain pasta with about 1 minute left in the cooking time.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and lemon zest and cook 1 minute more.  Season with salt and pepper then add lemon juice and half and half.  Let this bubble up, then reduce heat to low and let thicken, about 10 minutes.
  3. When pasta is done add directly to the sauce.  Add spinach and toss to combine until pasta is completely coated in sauce and finished cooking, and spinach has wilted.  Splash in a little reserved cooking liquid if the sauce needs thinning.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
  4. Grate some Parmesan cheese on top and serve in warmed bowls or with a green salad and crusty bread on the side.


2 thoughts on “Cook: Creamy Lemon Pasta with Spinach

  1. This was awesomely delicious! I threw in some halved grape tomatoes with the spinach to boost the veggie factor, but otherwise followed the recipe. I can see adding some shrimp to this for added protein as a main dish for my husband (not even close to a vegetarian). Thanks for a wonderful (relatively light) satisfying recipe!

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