This take on the traditional spaghetti al limone uses starchy pasta water instead of cream, allowing the lemon and parmesan to shine. While it may seem like a small quantity of water to cook the pasta, the ratio is important to ensure you end up with the silkiest sauce. Enjoy a crisp glass of Verdejo to complement the recipe’s lemon, rich cheese and pine nuts.
12 ounces spaghetti, linguine, or other long thin pasta
4 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons pine nuts
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced chives
In a large pot over high heat, bring 8 cups water to a boil with 1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt. Add pasta and cook until al dente (follow package instructions). While pasta cooks, melt butter in a very large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and lemon zest and cook just until fragrant, about one minute. (If pasta isn’t done at this point, reduce heat to low so the butter and garlic don’t burn; raise to medium before adding pasta.)
In a dry skillet over medium-low heat, toast pine nuts for 3 to 5 minutes, until aromatic and golden brown. Immediately transfer to a plate to cool.
Scoop out one cup of pasta water and reserve. Drain pasta and add to the skillet with about 1/2 cup pasta water, tossing to coat. When noodles are coated and most of the pasta water has been absorbed, add cheese and toss until cheese melts evenly. If the pasta seems dry, add more pasta water as needed. Mix in the lemon juice and transfer to a platter or individual dishes. Garnish with pine nuts and chives, serve immediately
WINE PAIRING: A classic, crisp, Verdejo made in stainless-steel has citrus notes that match the lemon in this dish, while offering bright contrast to the cheese and pine nuts. Try Bodegas Valdehermoso “Lagar del Rey,” Bodegas Hermanos del Villar “Oro de Castilla” Verdejo, or Marqués de Cáceres Sauvignon Blanc.