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Everyday Italian: Lemon Spaghetti

Everyday Italian has a few quick "from the pantry" pasta ideas, including this light, fresh-tasting spaghetti. The book recommends it as a side-dish for fish, and it also makes a lovely light lunch all by itself. All you need is dried pasta, a couple of lemons, some Parmesan cheese, and you're on your way to a quick and zesty meal.

De Laurentiis calls for fresh basil in the recipe, but if you're looking to make this dish one afternoon or evening when you've got very little time, and/or no fresh ingredients in the house, don't worry. The spaghetti tastes great even without the basil.

The recipe calls for the cook to save some of the pasta-cooking water, for use in thinning out the sauce. I found it unnecessary to use any of the reserved water, as the sauce coated the pasta just fine without it.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: about 10 minutes for the pasta
Yield: 4 main-course or 6 side-dish servings

2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
3/4 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 pound dried spaghetti (linguini would also work well)
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil, optional
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.

In a large bowl, whisk the oil, cheese, lemon juice, 3/4 tsp of salt, and 1/2 tsp of pepper to blend. Set the lemon sauce aside. (The sauce can be made up to 8 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

When water boils, add the spaghetti and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Add the spaghetti to the lemon sauce, and toss with the basil and lemon zest. If necessary, add the reserved cooking water, 1/4 cup at a time, to moisten. Season the pasta with more salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to bowls and serve.



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