This lusciously creamy lemon pasta recipe is the ideal balance of richness and acidity! It’s a comforting meal or stellar side dish.
Here’s a lusciously creamy pasta that will become the meal of your dreams. Try this Lemon Pasta! It’s rich and silky, with just the right balance of sharp citrus from loads of lemon zest. Don’t consider this a health food or even a healthy spin: it’s here for when you need a properly indulgent bit of pasta. This one is modeled off of a favorite of ours at a fantastic local restaurant and let’s just say: it’ll be tough to put down your fork.
Ingredients in this lemon pasta recipe
This lemon pasta recipe is a mess of citrusy, creamy long noodles smothered in cream, Parmesan and lemon zest. While most of the recipes on this website fit under the umbrella of healthy, this one is all about being just plain amazing. If you prefer a healthy spin, go to Vegan Fettucine Alfredo! For this lemon pasta you’ll need:
Pasta: spaghetti or bucatini
Salt and pepper
Use any long noodle (bucatini is best)
You can use any type of long noodle for this lemon pasta recipe. If you have fresh pasta, this would be a great sauce for using it! Of course, it’s much more accessible to use dried long noodles. Here are some options:
Bucatini: It’s spaghetti with a hole in it! It lends a deliciously chewy texture to the pasta.
Spaghetti: The classic!
Linguine: A slightly wider noodle.
Fettucine: A flatter and wider noodle.
Of course, this sauce works well with a short noodle as well, if you’re looking for a short pasta! Some ideas: Rigatoni, Penne, Orecchiette and Cavatappi would be great contenders.
How to make lemon pasta: a few tips
This lemon pasta takes just a few minutes to whip up. Here are a few tips to keep in mind during the cooking process:
Consider cutting it in half! The recipe below makes 6 to 8 servings, so cut in half if you don’t want leftovers (though they do save well!).
Zest the lemons first. You’ll need zest from two lemons, which can take a while. We like using a microplane grater to make quick work.
Loosen the sauce with pasta water. Like with many Italian pasta recipes, save a bit of the pasta water after you’ve boiled it: you may need a few splashes to get the sauce to a creamy consistency.
Serves a crowd, or works as leftovers
This lemon pasta makes quite a big pot of noodles! You’ll use 1 pound of pasta here, which in our book makes enough for 6 to 8 servings. This might be less than you’re used to when it comes to pasta, but this one is so rich we recommend having smaller servings.
You may want to halve this recipe, or it works great as leftovers! The flavor is still fantastic after 3 days refrigerated. We even ate it cold! You can also reheat it in a skillet with a splash of milk to get it creamy again.
What to serve with lemon pasta
Here’s an important thing about this lemon pasta recipe: how to make it into a meal! The serving size is smaller than you might be used to, because it’s such a rich and fatty pasta. You’ll want to accessorize it with a crisp green salad or some vegetable sides. Here are some ideas:
Cook the pasta (and save the pasta water!): Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Set the timer for a few minutes less than the package instructions and then taste: the pasta should be just done, still with some firmness. The pasta should also taste salty from the salted water. Save out ½ cup pasta water using a glass measuring cup for the sauce, then quickly drain the pasta.
Make the sauce: In saucepan, add the milk and cream and bring to a simmer over medium heat. As it comes to a simmer, grate in the garlic. Add ½ teaspoon kosher salt, zest of 1 lemon, and 4 tablespoons butter and stir for 1 minute. Slowly sprinkle in the Parmesan cheese, stirring constantly until fully incorporated and the sauce thickens.
Serve: Add the drained pasta to the sauce and toss to combine. Allow to sit 3 minutes. Add the remaining zest of 1 lemon, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 tablespoon butter. Add a few drizzles of pasta water as necessary until nicely coated. Serve with fresh ground black pepper. Store leftovers refrigerated for up to 3 days (reheats nicely in a skillet with a splash of milk).
*This quantity serves 6 to 8: make sure to cut in half if you’re serving less eaters! Pair with a green salad or veggie side to round it out as a meal.
Tortelloni could not be tastier paired with tomato cream sauce! The rich, tangy sauce pairs perfectly with chewy pasta pillows.
Got tortelloni? This delicious pasta is often mistaken for tortellini, but it’s easily the better of the cousin pasta shapes. The larger of the two is delightfully tender, with a generous gooey filling. Here’s our favorite way to serve them: with a tangy, garlicky tomato sauce, with a touch of richness from a hint of cream. It’s a great way to make them into a tasty vegetarian dinner or easy side dish. This one has been a huge hit with any friends and family we serve it to!
What is tortelloni?
What is tortelloni, anyway? It’s easy to grab a package and mistake it for the smaller pasta shape. What is tortelloni vs tortellini?
Tortelloni is a pasta shape that is larger than tortellini with a filled center. Tortellini has smaller and is ring shaped, with a hole in the middle. In traditional Italian cooking, tortelloni filling is vegetarian whereas tortellini often has meat. Tortellini is also often served in broth, whereas tortelloni is served with creamy sauces.
Where to find it? Tortelloni is easy to find the refrigerated section at your local grocery. It’s usually not available dried or frozen (though you can find tortellini dried and frozen).
How to tell the difference quickly? Tortellini has a hole in the middle, tortelloni has a solid center that encloses the filling.
Ways to serve tortelloni
Tortelloni is our preference over tortellini because it’s larger and more substantial. It’s great for serving with creamy sauces, whereas the smaller pasta shape can get lost. Here are some of the top ways to eat tortelloni:
Tomato sauce: Scroll down for the recipe for creamy tomato sauce
This tomato cream sauce is our favorite way to serve tortelloni. It’s similar to a Vodka Sauce, but instead of slow cooking it for hours you can whip it up in just 30 minutes. Here are a few notes on the process:
Find best quality canned tomatoes. The quality of tomatoes makes the sauce. Our top choice is fire roasted, if you can find them: the flavor is sweet and developed right out of the can. Or look for San Marzano, an Italian variety of tomato with a sweet flavor. If you can’t find either, just find the best quality canned tomatoes you can find.
The secret ingredient? Fennel seeds. The fennel adds add hearty, meaty flavor that can’t be replicated. Don’t leave it out!
Simmer until thickened. This should take between 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the brand of tomatoes. Longer is always better, if you have the time!
Make it a meal: sides for tortelloni
Whip up a pan of this tortelloni, and you’re on your way to a delicious meal! You can serve it as a meatless main, or a side dish in part of a larger spread. We’ve served it as a side dish for salmon in a meal al fresco, and all our guests raved! Here are some ideas for making it into a meal:
Make the sauce: Mince the garlic. Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and fennel seeds and cook for about 1 minute until fragrant and the garlic is golden (do not allow to brown). Turn the heat to medium low. Add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, ¼ cup of the heavy cream, the half onion, and the salt. Simmer 20 to 30 minutes until the sauce is thickened. When thickened, remove the half onion and stir in remaining 2 tablespoons heavy cream.
Cook the pasta: Start a large pot of well-salted water to boil. Boil the pasta until al dente according to the package instructions (usually around 2 minutes).
Serve: When the sauce is done, add the pasta to the skillet. Top with Parmesan shavings and fresh basil, if desired.
Easy Pasta Dinner Pasta nights are always happy nights at our house. Our entire family loves a good pasta dinner and we are currently loving this Zucchini Parmesan Pasta. I have been making it on repeat because our garden is producing massive amounts o…
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BLT pasta salad! Ok, more like TAT pasta salad, but this recipe has some serious BLT flavors going on, so we’re sticking with that. As you might have guessed, there’s no actual bacon here, just my trusty tempeh bacon plus sun-dried tomatoes…
BLT pasta salad! Ok, more like TAT pasta salad, but this recipe has some serious BLT flavors going on, so we’re sticking with that. As you might have guessed, there’s no actual bacon here, just my trusty tempeh bacon plus sun-dried tomatoes for an extra savory kick. This BLT pasta salad recipe would be a great dish to pass at a Labor Day gathering this weekend, but it’s also hearty enough to be a vegetarian main dish. Pack it up for a weekday lunch, or serve it for a light dinner. Whichever way you pick, I think you’re going to love […]
Pink pasta?! When we heard about this creamy, vibrant dish, we knew we had to give a plant-based version a try! Spoiler alert? Major success!
Rich, savory tomato sauce pairs with vegan cashew cream and noodles for the most comforting bowl of good…
Pink pasta?! When we heard about this creamy, vibrant dish, we knew we had to give a plant-based version a try! Spoiler alert? Major success!
Rich, savory tomato sauce pairs with vegan cashew cream and noodles for the most comforting bowl of goodness. Just 10 ingredients and 30 minutes required for this weeknight-friendly main or side. Let’s make pasta!
Recipe Inspiration: Penne alla Vodka
This vegan pink pasta was inspired by Female Foodie’s recipe, which was inspired by an Italian restaurant in Newport Beach, California.
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This summer tortellini carbonara is such a treat! Made with fresh sweet corn, basil and crispy bacon, it’s an easy, delicious weeknight meal. Monday night dinner, comin’ in hot! This summer carbonara is a lovely little weeknight meal, made with super sweet, fresh corn off the cob (I don’t cook it!) and crispy, crunch bacon. […]
This summer tortellini carbonara is such a treat! Made with fresh sweet corn, basil and crispy bacon, it’s an easy, delicious weeknight meal.
Monday night dinner, comin’ in hot!
This summer carbonara is a lovely little weeknight meal, made with super sweet, fresh corn off the cob (I don’t cook it!) and crispy, crunch bacon. Along with lots of fresh bright basil for the perfect summer bite.
I mean, it is SO GOOD.
I’ve made carbonara so many different ways on the blog – like, literally, trashed it up as much as I can. I’ve never used tortellini though, so here we are!
What’s so great about this recipe is that you can use whatever tortellini you have on hand. Cheese, spinach, sun dried tomato, chicken – it all works! Whatever tortellini is your favorite, it can fit right in there. After all, there aren’t many flavors that won’t go with pasta and eggs and cheese.
The carbonara base is my absolute favorite. I keep that “pure” – as in, whisking together the eggs and the parmesan, reserving some pasta water and bringing it all together to create a silky, decadent sauce that is just enough to coat the noodles. It’s a dream.
If this is your first time making carbonara, I’d probably suggest using “regular” noodles – and following one of my other carbonara recipes. The thing is that you need to quickly whisk in the egg + parmesan mixture to create a sauce. And not create scrambled eggs! But you have to do so gently here so you don’t rip apart the tortellini.
If you want to see me make it step-by-step, head over to my instagram stories where you can see it. I make every single recipe on there, step-by-step, to make it easy for you to cook at home.(more…)
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One of my all-time favorite no-brainer quick-fix meals is pasta + broccoli + butter + Parmesan (aka Bowties and Broccoli). But what I discovered this week is that sprinkling a little ranch seasoning mix over top really takes it to the next level! This Ranch Broccoli Pasta just takes minutes to make and is full of deliciously creamy, tangy, herby ranch flavor!
What Kind of Ranch Seasoning to Use
I used a half batch of my homemade ranch seasoning, but you can use a store-bought packet of ranch seasoning mix if you prefer. This recipe calls for 1.5 Tbsp of ranch seasoning, which is about ½ of a store-bought packet. Of course, you could always add more seasoning if you prefer!
Use Any Pasta
Another reason that I love this quick-fix meal is that you can do this with whatever shape pasta you have. So it’s a great way to use up odds and ends of boxes of pasta that you may have hanging out in your pantry (if you’re like me and rarely cook an entire pound of pasta at once).
What Else Can I Add?
As usual, this recipe is a great jumping-off point for a number of fun variations. Here are some other ingredients you can add to take this easy meal up a notch:
Diced grilled chicken
Grape tomatoes (sliced in half)
Ranch Broccoli Pasta
This Ranch Broccoli Pasta just takes minutes to make and is full of deliciously creamy, tangy, herby ranch flavor!
Total Cost $1.71 recipe / $0.43 serving
Prep Time 10minutes
Cook Time 15minutes
Total Time 25minutes
Author Beth – Budget Bytes
8oz.pasta (any shape)$0.50
1/2lb.frozen broccoli florets$0.72
1/8tspsalt (or to taste)$0.01
1/8tspfreshly cracked pepper$0.01
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and continue to boil until the pasta is tender (about 7-10 minutes).
When the pasta is just tender, add the frozen broccoli florets to the boiling water with the pasta, and let it sit for about one minute. Reserve a ¼ cup of the starchy pasta water, then drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander.
Return the drained pasta and broccoli to the pot with the burner turned off. Add the butter and ranch seasoning and stir until the butter is melted and everything is coated in the seasoning. If the pasta becomes dry while stirring, add a splash of the reserved pasta water.
Finally, season the pasta with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.
How to Make Ranch Broccoli Pasta – Step by Step Photos
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and continue to boil until the pasta is tender (7-10 minutes). Add the frozen broccoli florets during the last minute of boiling. Reserve a 1/4 cup of the starchy pasta water, then drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander.
Add the drained pasta and broccoli back to the pot (heat turned off) and add 2 Tbsp butter and about 1.5 Tbsp ranch seasoning mix. Stir until the butter is melted and everything is coated in butter and seasoning. If the pasta become dry while stirring, add a splash of the reserved pasta water.
Taste the pasta and add salt and pepper to your liking. Serve warm! So simple, so delish. :)
Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, a writer shares the story of a single dish that’s meaningful to them and their loved ones.
Thunk. Thunk. Thunk. The beat of the knife hitting the cutting board is slow and meth…
Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, a writer shares the story of a single dish that's meaningful to them and their loved ones.
Thunk. Thunk. Thunk. The beat of the knife hitting the cutting board is slow and methodical. I say nothing. My husband is chopping garlic, and this is his pace, and after a year of biting my tongue about his speed, I accept it. After eight years of marriage, I’m teaching Jay how to cook.