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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.

This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. Todd Wilbur

    Yay! Yipee! Meyer lemons are back in season and now I have the perfect Meyer Lemon Pasta recipe for them. I am so excited. I just went online, Googled ‘purchase Meyer lemons’ and there they were, ready to deliver direct from growers. I should have them in a few days ready to use in your wonderful recipe.

    "Sphaghetti with Meyer Lemon." That's priceless.

    Can’t wait to serve recipe to my family especially since everyone in my family are all big Meyer lemon fans and pasta fans.

    Meyer Lemons are like love. Sometimes hard to find, but well worth the wait.

    Thank you again for sharing this recipe.

  2. Jesse

    Oh yes. I will be making this very soon! Looks perfect.

    And if your really taking votes, id love to hear the kale salad recipe. We are getting a lot of kale from our CSA lately, and I'm up to my neck in kale chips and soups.

  3. WordyDoodles

    Yay! I love having a variety of ways to serve pasta (easily the favorite dish around here). I'm going to use whole wheat spaghetti- I think the lemon, olive oil and pepper can stand up to it.

    And come to think of it, this would make a terrific dressing for chickpeas, which I love to throw in for protein. Thanks Debbie!

  4. WordyDoodles

    Ok- coming back to report that chickpeas with this sauce were so ridiculously delicious, I may have found my new go-to snack.

  5. debbie koenig

    Todd, thanks for your considerable enthusiasm!

    Jesse, I've noted your vote. Yes, I was serious.

    And WordyD, do you mean you left out the pasta & just tossed the sauce with chickpeas? I have to try that! I've got another recipe on the site that's pasta w/broccoli & chickpeas, in a lemony sauce–the flavors definitely go together well.

  6. Anonymous

    Fab suggestion! I have some meyer lemons on my counter that were originally bound for cocktails and curds, but I might have to sacrifice a few to the pasta bowl.

  7. Anonymous

    This is my son's fav, go-to, much requested dinner (along with a side salad). He'd eat it every week, no worries, and loves it for lunch too.

  8. Marilyn

    Pasta is a staple in my house and this light lemony sauce sounds delicious! Thanks for the recipe.

  9. Brittani Blue

    I think I just caught myself drooling! I will be giving this a try very soon. Also, the pizza recipe should be next – that's my opinion!! 🙂

  10. Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama}

    Yep, my mouth is watering. Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe!

  11. NoPotCooking

    I have never had Meyer lemon! Clearly I need to!

  12. growfamilygrow

    Made this tonight. Yummy, but I must admit it pales in comparison to your pecorino cheese/lemon and mint dish that I tested for the upcoming book.

  13. Jess

    Mmm! Looks delish! Thanks for posting!!

  14. debbie koenig

    Wow, who knew a simple lemony pasta dish could be such a hit? Note to self: more lemony pasta.

    GFG, I totally forgot about that recipe! Now I need to buy mint.

  15. Ms. Bum

    This looks so bright and refreshing! A welcome dinner after a long month of heavy food. I can't wait to try it.

  16. Melanie @ Frugal Kiwi

    This sounds lovely and I've got a Meyer tree in the yard with fruit ready to pick at the moment. Don't hate me- in July I'll be freezing my tush off.

  17. growfamilygrow

    Don't forget that recipe. It is one of my favorites. Go get ye some mint. I'm making sure to grow it again this year just for that dish. Oh, that dish and the mojitos.

  18. Princess

    Thanks for this! My 5.5 y-o loves browsing recipes and this caught her attention right away, so we tried it tonight. Didn't have enough parmesan, but did have plenty of pecorino, also used wholewheat pasta. Came out a hit, only one who hasn't had any yet is the baby, but only because he fell asleep early, will have to make this again later in the week and try him on it. Big sister is certainly clamouring for more!

  19. Princess

    My 5.5 year-old loves browsing recipes and she thought this sounded yummy so we gave it a whirl tonight. Didn't actually have enough parmesan in stock so we substituted pecorino, also used wholewheat pasta. Came out so good! Will have to make it again later in the week with parmesan and see how that is. My daughter is so excited to be able to make something so simple and friendly to kid cooks 🙂

  20. debbie koenig

    How funny, Princess–I made it last night with pecorino, too! It came out a little saltier/tangier than with parm, but very, very similar.

  21. Sara

    Finally made this tonight, Debbie, and is was amazing. My husband and I both devoured it. Wish Meyers had a longer season. Oh, and I steamed some broccoli to go with it and it would have been excellent just tossed right in with the pasta. Thanks!

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