Meyer Lemon Pasta

Meyer Lemon Pasta

I asked; you answered.

Yesterday on Words to Eat By’s Facebook page, I listed a handful of recipes* and asked which you’d like to hear about next. The clear winner: Meyer Lemon Pasta. Without a word of description, it makes your mouth water, doesn’t it?

This’ll be the third post in which I’ve mentioned my birthday dinner at Franny’s. It was that good. My first attempt at replicating one of the dishes was a miserable failure (it’s that pile of mashed potato-looking polenta alongside a pile of bitter, bitter greens). But this one, hoooo baby, this one’s a hit!

On the menu at Franny’s, it was simply listed as “Spaghetti with Meyer Lemon.” Almost self-effacing enough to be passed over—I’m so glad I asked the waitress to tell us a little more. It was still as humble as it first seemed, just a pile of pasta tossed with a sauce of olive oil, butter, cheese, and Meyer lemon juice, but somehow hearing her describe it was enough to win me over. When it arrived at our table, I knew I’d made the right choice. Friends, I licked the bowl. Stephen fought me for it. We talked about it all the way home. And when I found some Meyer lemons at the Brooklyn Kitchen a few days later, I knew I had to at least try to make it.

As it turns out, it’s ridiculously simple. It’s one of those dishes that depends utterly on the quality of the ingredients used: with sunny, uber-lemony, not-at-all-tart Meyer lemons, fresh pasta from Savino’s, freshly grated, aged Parmigiano Reggiano, and a flavorful olive oil, it’s hard to go wrong. I skipped the butter in a nod to Weight Watchers, but we didn’t miss it at all. It’s the lemon you want to taste here, and it shines right through. And bonus: Because the sauce itself isn’t cooked, it comes together in the time it takes to boil water and cook fresh pasta. It’s a wintertime cousin to warm weather Angel Hair Zucchini and Raw Tomato Sauce, and it’s a dish you’ll want to make, oh, every day during the all-too-short Meyer lemon season.

You’re welcome.

* In case you’re curious, the others were: strawberry frosting, butternut & zucchini pizzas, and kale salad with brown butter vinaigrette. All are coming, I swear, but if you’d care to vote on which comes next I’d love to hear from you.

Meyer Lemon Pasta
Serves 4
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Weight Watchers: each serving is 14 PointsPlus

1 pound fresh pasta (or 8 ounces dried)
2 Meyer lemons
3 tablespoons flavorful olive oil
salt & pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and add the pasta.
  2. Fresh pasta won’t take long to cook, so move quickly: Zest one of the lemons and put it into a bowl large enough to eventually hold the pasta. Juice both lemons and add to the bowl, along with the oil, salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper, and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Whisk it all together—it should emulsify a bit.
  3. Before draining the pasta, reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the bowl immediately and toss—the heat of the pasta should melt the cheese. If it seems dry, add a splash at a time of the cooking water, until it’s saucy enough for your taste.
  4. Serve with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

MAKE BABY FOOD: Some babies don’t react well to the acidity in lemons (though Harry loved sucking on them). But Meyer lemons are relatively low in acid, so you should be fine. If you’re on purees, whir some of the sauced pasta with a little more cooking liquid, if it needs it. If you’re on finger foods, cut up long strands or use cut pasta (the gemelli pictured would be fine).

(Wondering what that “Make Baby Food” thing’s all about? It’s explained here.