A delicious, one-pan pasta, this quick and easy Lemon Spinach Pasta uses a no-cook sauce so it’s easy and ready in just the time it takes to boil pasta!
I love lemon pasta and I happily eat it year round. This quick and easy lemon spinach pasta is one of my favourite lemon pasta recipes. It’s a great way to use up Crème Fraîche, and it’s always a bonus that it’s ready in just the time it takes to boil the pasta.
The speedy secret of this pasta is that it uses a no-cook sauce. Even the spinach requires no cooking. Simply combine the sauce ingredients and the raw spinach with hot pasta, toss and enjoy. The heat of the pasta does all the work for you.
And this pasta has another secret to making it delicious. Adding a whole lemon to the pasta water while it comes to a boil, infuses some of the lemon flavour right in to the pasta. When the whole lemon is removed before adding the pasta, let it cool, then juice it for the sauce. You’ll be amazed at home much juice comes out of it!
Ingredients and Substitutions
Crème Fraîche – As I mentioned, this is a great recipe to use up some Crème Fraîche and it’s always the one that comes to mind for me when I have some in my fridge in need of using up. If you don’t have Crème Fraîche, you have a couple of options …
Make Your Own Crème Fraîche at Home: Simply combine 1 cup heavy, whipping cream with 2 Tbsp buttermilk in a jar. Cover loosely and let stand on your counter for 8-24 hours, until thickened. You could do this in the morning and have it ready to enjoy by dinner time!
You could also substitute mascarpone cheese, if you have that on hand. Beyond that, you’re getting in to territory that’s not quite as reliable to maintain the flavour and creaminess of this dish. You could use heavy cream mixed with a bit of sour cream (for a bit of tangy) or possibly full-fat plain Greek yogurt might work.
Spinach – As for the spinach, go with baby spinach or small, fresh spinach leaves roughly chopped, to ensure it wilts well with just the heat of the pasta. Have arugula? Go ahead and use that instead of the spinach.
Basil – I love fresh basil in this dish, but you could easily omit without a major flavour hit to this dish, if you don’t have any on hand. A bit of dried basil would also work here.
If you’re anything like me, you always struggle with how much dried pasta to use. Follow the simple rule of thumb below to get it right, every time!
How much dried pasta to use for 1 serving? For long, dried pasta, such as spaghetti, spaghettini, linguine, angel hair etc, the rule of thumb is a 1-inch diameter circle of dried pasta per serving. This is perfect for an average serving. If you have a hearty appetite, bump it up to 1 1/2 inches.
Get the Recipe: Quick and Easy Lemon Spinach Pasta
- 1 whole lemon, scrubbed to clean
- 2 servings dried long pasta, linguini or spaghetti, angelhair etc. *see notes
- 1/3 cup Crème Fraîche, *see Note 1 below for substitutions
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus more for garnish
- 3 large fresh basil leaves, chopped or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
- Zest from 1/2 of the whole lemon
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 large handful baby spinach, or larger spinach, chopped
- Juice from the 1 whole lemon above
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Fill large pot with water and add the whole lemon to the water. Remove zest from about 1/2 of the whole lemon and set the zest aside for the sauce. Add zested whole lemon to the water and bring the water with the lemon to a boil over high heat. Once boiling remove lemon and set aside to cool. Add salt to your water, then add pasta and cook to al dente according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, stir together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Prepare your spinach and set aside. When lemon is cool enough to handle, cut in half and juice. Pour juice through a strainer in to a small bowl, to remove seeds and pulp. Set aside.
- When pasta is cooked, before draining, remove 1 cup of the pasta water and set aside. Drain pasta well and return to the pot. Add sauce mixture and spinach to the pot with the hot pasta and with tongs, toss well until the spinach is wilted and sauce is coating the pasta. Drizzle with reserved lemon juice and toss well. If pasta seems tight (clumpy/sticking together), add a bit of your reserved pasta water to the pasta and toss to loosen it up. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste. Serve with additional freshly grated Parmesan and more freshly ground pepper.
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Hi! I’m Jennifer, a home cook schooled by trial and error and almost 40 years of getting dinner on the table! I love to share my favourite recipes, both old and new, together with lots of tips and tricks to hopefully help make your home cooking enjoyable, stress free, rewarding and of course, delicious!