Lemon basil pasta is a tasty springtime recipe that incorporates strong flavors from the season.
This light, spring pasta recipe can be made a number of ways with numerous ingredients added.
While this specific base recipe is without meat or fish, it pairs beautifully with chicken, scallops or shrimp, so feel free to add the protein you most prefer.
While some pasta fans prefer a doughy pasta, others favor dried macaroni. For this white sauce recipe, it’s recommended you cook down Fettuccine, spaghetti, calamarata or penne; but feel free to choose the pasta type you love, whether it’s farfalle, rigatoni, gnocchi, ziti or something else.
Feel free to use any pasta of your choosing for this recipe. (Sezgin Pancar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
The lemon in this pasta dish will act as a fresh flavor enhancer while also adding citrus itself and the basil will offer a sweet aroma to the other pungent spring flavors.
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 2 cups of heavy whipping cream
- ¼ stick of unsalted butter
- A lot of basil
- 5-6 cloves of roasted garlic
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup of pasta water
- Olive oil
Lemon, butter, basil, garlic and Parmesan cheese are all ingredients you will need for this pasta recipe. (Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
When beginning a recipe, you’ll always want to consider which ingredients will take the longest to cook or prepare and start with those.
For this order of cooking, begin roasting the garlic and boiling your water for pasta.
How to roast garlic
If you love the flavor of roasted garlic in your meals, keep this recipe on hand for the future.
First, preheat the oven to 400 F.
In a piece of tinfoil, add your freshly peeled garlic cloves and cover them in olive oil or your preferred oil. For garlic packed with savory flavors, add a dash of salt and pepper and a stem or two of rosemary and close off the foil. Place in the oven and roast for 40-50 minutes.
Roasting garlic takes about 40 minutes and will add tons of flavor to your dish. (Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
At 40 minutes, check the garlic’s softness.
If it’s soft to a fork’s touch, it’s ready to be used. Set aside on the counter.
How to boil water with flavor
Truly delicious sauce recipes work in a bit of pasta water toward the end of the preparation. Adding a little bit of pasta water gives your entire meal an extra layer of creaminess, and it binds all flavors together.
When your water comes to a boil, add salt. How much is up to you, but it’s recommended for this recipe you add at least one tablespoon of salt. Additionally, include one tablespoon of olive oil in your pot to keep the pasta from sticking to each other. This step will also add even more flavor to your pasta water.
Once your water is boiled, cook your pasta based on box instructions or to the level of tenderness your taste buds prefer. Al dente is an ideal texture to avoid mushy pasta or chalkiness in your creamy sauce.
Save some of your pasta water before you drain your noodles. You’ll need it for the sauce later on. ( Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images)
Save ½ cup of water when draining your pasta.
Lemon basil cream sauce recipe
In a pan on low to medium heat, add butter and melt it down. You’ll want to make sure the butter stays a golden yellow color as it melts. Avoid any brown as a burnt flavor for this sauce is not ideal. From here, add two cups of heavy whipping cream and stir together.
Note that some of your liquid is going to evaporate while it’s in the pan. This is OK, as the pasta water will add more liquid back to the sauce.
At this point, add the juice from one lemon, the roasted garlic and a dash or two of salt and pepper each and cover with a lid. Let your flavors combine for one to two minutes without uncovering to stir.
Slowly add ½ cup of pasta water to the sauce, stir in and cover again for one to two minutes.
Make sure to pair your pasta with some tasty garlic bread. (Nico Tondini/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Add your pasta directly into the saucepan and begin coating as you stir the ingredients around. From here, add as much or as little grated Parmesan cheese as you’d like. It’s recommended at least two tablespoons are added for both flavor and to thicken the sauce.
Lastly, add a ton of chopped basil to the pan and stir in. You want to avoid cooking the basil down and simply include it into the pasta so add the herb right before serving.
How much basil needed is up to you. If you love the taste of basil, add at least one fistful.
Extra notes for a delicious lemon basil cream sauce
- Taste your sauce before adding the pasta to the pan. If you feel there isn’t enough citrus for your palette, add more fresh lemon juice.
- This sauce recipe is ideal for ½ bag or box of pasta. If you’re feeding more than ½ bag or box feeds, double the recipe.
- It was mentioned that protein is optional at the beginning of this recipe. If you so choose to add it, you’ll want to include it in the pan before the basil so the meat or fish can also be coated in sauce.
- Any additional sauce on a plate should be swept up with a piece of garlic bread. Enjoy!