Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce

Two bowls of angel hair pasta with lemon cream sauce.

Like all good pasta dishes, this recipe for angel hair pasta with lemon cream sauce has so few ingredients, all must shine. If you happen to have some grappa on hand, the fiery Italian spirit is a delicious alternative for the gin in this pasta dish.–Jennifer McLagan

LC Nothing Extraneous Note

Talk about efficiency. You can toss this pantry-minded pasta sauce together in less than half an hour from just seven ingredients. The fewer ingredients, though, the greater emphasis on the quality of each. This pertains particularly to the lemons, needed not just for their sprightly juice but their aromatic zest. So in keeping with the recipe’s laudable theme of nothing extraneous, rely on organic lemons to prevent pesticides from polluting your pasta.

Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 15 M
  • 20 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 1 reviews


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Set a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, finely grate the zest of one of the lemons. Cut a thick slice off both ends of the zested lemon to expose the flesh. Stand the lemon upright, then cutting from the top down, remove the peel, including all the white pith. Holding the lemon over a bowl to catch the juice, use a paring knife to cut along either side of each segment to free it from the membranes, letting each segment fall into the bowl. When you’ve removed all the segments, squeeze any juice from the membranes into the bowl and then discard. Remove the seeds and set the segments aside in another small dish. Measure the lemon juice in the bowl. Cut the remaining lemon in half and squeeze another 2 tablespoons of juice into the bowl. Set aside.

In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, bring the cream, gin or grappa, and lemon segments to a gentle boil. Lower the heat to a bare simmer until the lemon cream sauce thickens slightly, 5 to 8 minutes Remove the pan from the heat.

Drain the pasta. If need be, reheat the lemon cream sauce over medium-low heat. Add the lemon juice to the sauce along with half the grated lemon zest. Add the drained angel hair pasta to the sauce and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in warmed pasta bowls, sprinkled with the remaining lemon zest as well as the parsley and, if desired Parmesan.

    Recipe Testers Reviews

    The ingredients in this recipe intrigued me. I also happened to have slices of hot-smoked sockeye salmon with cracked peppercorns, mustard seeds, and lemon along with some Meyer lemons that were calling out to be used. It sounded like they’d fit together beautifully, and indeed they did. I’ve made cream sauces with vodka, but never with gin. I tasted the sauce as it was simmering, and it had a very sharp, unpleasant taste, just full of raw alcohol. At the 8-minute mark, I added a little bit more cream along with the chunks of smoked salmon that I’d cut, and continued to cook the sauce down, about 8-10 minutes more. That seemed to do the trick. The alcohol needed extra time to cook off. Perhaps the addition of the salmon helped also. I used narrow, flat spaghetti instead of the angel hair, thinking that the angel hair wouldn’t hold up to the pieces of salmon. The end result was really delicious. The next time I try this recipe, I’ll try making it with vodka, just to see if that would cut down on the harshness I initially tasted in the sauce. Don’t forget the parsley at the end—something so simple, but it adds a lot to the dish.

    Fresh pasta, lemons, and cream…oh my! The first time I made this recipe it was very tart. I used the seedless lemons I always buy, and the dish just puckered your mouth. So, I tried it again using small lemons, and it’s now a Testers Choice recipe for me. It’s the perfect pasta dish for our family since the ingredients are always on hand. The dish is simple to prepare and you should have everything measured and ready to go before you start the dish. It’s just that quick to put together. The first taste is nirvana in your mouth. You have the richness of the heavy cream, the smooth texture of the fresh pasta, and then bits of lemon pulp that burst in your mouth and give you that extra little something ever so often. I served it with some sautéed chicken cutlets, and it was fantastic meal.

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