Spaghetti with Lemon & Parmesan

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Spaghetti with Lemon & Parmesan

Even though last night was “Valentine’s Night” and so many couples were off doing romantic things that I’m sure only really happen in the movies, I was so not in the mood to cook. I was feeling hot and bothered and just not in the mood for anything…never mind standing in front of my hot stove for more then 5 minutes. So I knew pasta would be the logical thing to cook, only, I was not going to be making a really deliciously fantastic slowly braised meat sauce, or even a fast Garlic & Mushroom sauce. I was contemplating on just serving it with some butter and salt (I’d seen some students do this in my college days) and a side salad but then the guilt hit me. My poor dad was going to come home from his long day at work to a bowl of buttered noodles? And my wonderful husband, after buying me the most gorgeous red roses, I was going to make him eat buttered noodles? I mean really? Buttered Noodles? So I ventured into my refrigerator and found a tub of cream and some Parmesan cheese. Ok, I know, it’s not exactly ‘impressive’ but it’s a step up from butter and salt ok?

I figured I could make a decent-ish sauce from some cream and Parmesan and then my creative juices started flowing. I just dumped the cream and finely grated Parmesan into a bowl and started adding stuff…first black pepper, then some salt and then I spotted the fresh lemons. I know I like something tangy in cream-based sauces so I thought, why not? I added the juice of a half a lemon and tasted it. It was sooo good but not tangy enough, so I decided to add the other half’s juice and some of the rind, grated finely. Tasted again, and I was in heaven…BUT, I missed something. Don’t you just hate when that happens? You’re cooking something and it’s practically perfect, you just need one little thing…I think that’s my worst, along with blunt knives and lemon juice squirting in my eye.

Spaghetti with Lemon & Parmesan

I went back into my fridge and spotted the Dijon mustard. I overlooked it but then went back to it…why not once again… Parmesan, lemon, cream and Dijon. Sounds pretty darn good to me. So I added a dollop of it and tasted AGAIN…it was perfect. And actually quite thick, which started me thinking it would be a great dip…but I’ll explore that at another time.

I know I say I cook easy food a lot and you’re probably tired of hearing it by now, but this really is one of those recipes. And I was quite worried that my family wouldn’t enjoy it as much as I did, but my younger brother snatched a strand of spaghetti tossed with the ‘sauce’ while I wasn’t looking and said “mmmm, this is actually really good…did you use that expensive cheese?”

I served the pasta with a Greek salad and it was really fantastic, but throw in a warmed up Ciabatta and it would be, like Guy Fieri says, “the money” !!

Served 4

1 cup (250ml) cream
3 cups finely grated Parmesan/Pecorino cheese
juice and rind of one lemon
1tsp Dijon mustard
2tbsn freshly chopped parsley
salt and fresh black pepper to taste

500g spaghetti, cooked and 1 cup of cooking water reserved

  • Combine all the sauce ingredients and mix well.
  • Toss with the cooked spaghetti and add some of the reserved cooking water to loosen it up a bit if necessary.
  • Serve with chopped parsley and some extra Parmesan if required.

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Alida Ryder
Alida Ryder
Being a general food freak has proven to be quite helpful in this career I've found myself in. Author of two cookbooks, photographer, food stylist. Mom to twins. Ex make-up and hair artist obsessed with beautiful clothes and spaces. I love a good G&T and I've been known to spend too much money on shoes.
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  • Lori

    Sounds fabulous! An easy and tasty dinner – although I have no problem with hot buttered noodles and some strong cheddar cheese :)

    • Ally_R

      Lori, I promise you if I didn’t live with 3 hungry men I would almost live off hot-buttered noodles with cheese. With a big chunk of crusty bread…YUM!!

  • Ally_R

    Nins, they sure did! :)

  • JoAnn Kuhn

    Three cups of Parmesan cheese? Is that a typo? That’s $15-$20 worth of cheese! Sounds like a great recipe though.

    • Alida Ryder

      JoAnn. It’s not a typo. I grate my Parmesan very finely with a microplain which makes it almost fluffy. Therefore it fills 3 cups quite easily. If you use a regular grater you will probably only need a cup to a cup and a half of parmesan. Otherwise try to use approximately 100g. Hope that answers your question.

  • Nate

    what do you mean by cream? Sour cream? Heavy cream?

  • Nate

    What do you mean by cream- heavy, half n half, sour cream?

    • Alida Ryder

      Nate, In SA it would be normal cream/whipping cream but I think that Heavy cream would be the best.

  • MiaElizaB

    This looks amazing and I just bought the stuff to make it. When you say rind of one lemon, do you mean lemon zest from one lemon?? Just a bit confused by that one. Thanks!

  • Alida Ryder

    I can imagine the mushrooms were delish Ashley. And yes, I often add thinly sliced chicken breast to the sauce for a more substantial meal.

  • Alida Ryder

    No, the heat of the cooked pasta is enough to heat the sauce right before eating.

  • Alida Ryder

    So glad you liked it Brittany!

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