I have been making this pasta for about 20 years….. I am sure everyone coming to us for dinner had this at some point :). It is an amazingly flavorful dish which is the direct result of fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and basil. The sauce itself is something like a cross between a pesto and vinaigrette. You don’t need to cook it, you can make it in advance and just pour over the freshly cooked pasta and everything comes to life.
You can serve it just as it is or with a piece of baked fish, just as I did. It is really good with salmon and also great with grilled shrimp.
How to adjust this dish to suit any kinds of dietary requirements?
You can make the dish with any kind of pasta. We tried with many different ones and I think linguine is the best, a good quality, whole grain kind, that has a great texture and sauce can stick to it. But feel free to use whatever your preference. If you have dietary requirements, you can buy gluten free pasta or make it with zucchini spirals, just like this.
If you don’t eat seafood, you can add fennel. Shave a fennel into very thin slices and braise it in olive oil, a little bit of white wine, salt and pepper. Finally add to the pasta.
And for vegans, in this picture I made it raw and vegan. I used all the ingredients of the sauce as detailed below but didn’t add butter. Instead of the parmigiano region I prepared this dish with a vegan pine nut parmesan.
The basic ingredients of the sauce, that will determine the flavor profile is lemon, basil and garlic.
Your lemon should be organic, not waxed because you will use the zest too. Both basil and garlic has to be fresh and very good quality.
If you decide to make the pasta with baked salmon, the easiest way to bake it “en papillote”. This means in parchment paper. This cooking method is really great for fish. Put the fish on a piece of parchment, season with salt, pepper, a few lemon slices, fennel fonds and wrap the paper into a parcel, twisting the paper on both ends, to close it and it will hold the moisture and steam the fish.
Lemon basil pasta ingredients and instructions (yields 4 )
- your choice and amount of pasta
- 1/2 cup light olive oil
- 4 tbsp melted but not hot butter
- big bunch (4 oz) of fresh basil, chopped both finely and bigger pieces (you can chop it in food processor, but I prefer the texture of handcut)
- zest and juice of 2 lemons (first zest it and then squeeze the juice)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp chili flakes (more or less depending on your heat tolerance)
- about 1/2 cup of fresh, grated parmigiano-reggiano (use as much so it will make the sauce thick)
- salt, black pepper to taste
Mix ingredients in the order of appearance in a big enough bowl that can accommodate the pasta too! If you let this stand, it will get thicker and harden, but don’t worry. The steaming hot pasta will liquify it. Once your pasta is cooked, drain it, save a little bit of cooking water, and mix pasta with this sauce immediately. If you feel it is not saucy enough, you can add a little bit of cooking water and mix thoroughly.
Serve pasta with torn pieces of salmon, fresh fennel fonds, a few tiny basil leaves and a slice of baked lemon. Grate some fresh parmesan on top. ENJOY!