Yes, you can have luxury on a Tuesday (or whatever) night. All you need is lemon, some cream, a shower of herbs, good cheese — and pasta.

Spaghetti’s skinnier sibling is what you want for this delicate sauce.



1small lemon

3tablespoonsextra-virgin olive oil

1cupheavy cream

Leaves from 2 large sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley

Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh basil

1pounddried spaghettini (thin spaghetti)

12cupfreshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

Freshly ground black pepper


Step 1

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Salt it generously.

Step 2

Zest the lemon with a Microplane grater or zester (no white pith). Squeeze the lemon and measure out 2 tablespoons of juice.

Step 3

Combine the oil and lemon zest in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring now and again, for a couple of minutes until the zest starts to sizzle gently.

Step 4

Stir in the cream and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes, until the cream is heated through. Then whisk in the lemon juice, one tablespoon at a time, to form a thickened sauce. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.

Step 5

Finely chop the parsley and basil; you should end up with about a tablespoon of each.

Step 6

Add the spaghettini to the boiling water, reduce the heat to medium-high and cook according to the package directions (for al dente). Watch closely, as this thin spaghetti cooks quickly. Drain in a colander set in the sink, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

Step 7

Return the pasta to the pot, then pour the sauce over it. Toss gently to combine. Stir in the cheese, herbs and a few grindings of black pepper. Add a splash or two of cooking water, as needed, to loosen the sauce. Toss once more, then divide among individual bowls, and serve with additional cheese.

Adapted from “Preserving Italy: Canning, Curing, Infusing, and Bottling Italian Flavors and Traditions,” by Domenica Marchetti (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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More pasta recipes:

Cacio e Pepe Alla Colu

Farfale With Salmon, Peas and Sage

BLT Bucatini


Calories: 520; Total Fat: 25 g; Saturated Fat: 12 g; Cholesterol: 60 mg; Sodium: 540 mg; Carbohydrates: 59 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g; Sugars: 4 g; Protein: 14 g.