Long ago in Tuscany, lemons hung heavy from the trees, parsley sprouted up from the ground green and meaty, and pines nuts blanketed the ground  The olive trees that cover the landscape provided oil which, right after pressing, burned the throat as it went down.  These ingredients, along with simple pasta, combined in a dish that could be made any day of the week, for any meal, because it included what was simplest and most easily available.  What was true then is true today and I urge you to make this dish NOW! I served it to friends a couple of nights ago in Paris, when the impossibly high temperature cracked the ceiling, and it was refreshing, light, restorative.  It is also terrific in the dead of winter when the sky is low, the days short.  Then it brings in a hint of summer sun and warmth.

While fresh tagliatelle is the traditional pasta here, I like to serve it with farfalle, cooked al dente.  Try a chilled Pinot Grigio or a lovely rosé with this dish.

pasta with lemon


1 cup (10g) flat leaf parsley leaves, gently packed
1 small clove garlic, green germ removed
1/2 cup (125ml) extra virgin olive oil
The zest from 2 lemons, cut in julienne strips
1/2 cup (15g) pine nuts
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound (500g) dried pasta (I use either farfalle or penne)
Lemon wedges – optional

  1.  Mince the parsley leaves with the garlic and place  in a large bowl. Cover with oil and stir, then add the zest and the pine nuts and stir.  Season with salt (about 1/4 teaspoon) and set aside for 2 hours.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (2 tablespoons salt to 5 quarts water).  When the water is boiling, add the pasta and stir.  Boil until the pasta is al dente – about 7 minutes.  Drain the pasta, saving 1/2 cup (125ml) cooking water.   Add the hot pasta to the sauce and toss until all the ingredinets are thoroughly combined.  Add half the reserved pasta water and toss, then season to your taste with salt and pepper.  If the pasta is moist enough, serve immediately.  If it is still a bit dry, then add enough additional water, tossing after each addition, so that it is moist.
  3. To serve, use two spoons and make sure that you scoop up pine nuts with each serving.  Serve the lemon wedges alongside, for those who want to squeeze a bit of juice atop the pasta.

Serves 4 as a main dish; 6 as a first course

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12 Responses to Pasta with Lemon and Parsley

  1. Will says:


    Sounds great. I’m going to make it tonight.

    Question. What does lemon zest cut in ‘julienne strips’ mean?

    When I use a zester to zest a lemon the result looks like a pile of sawdust, not strips.


    • Susan says:

      Will – you are probably using a plane, the tool with holes in it that makes “fluff” out of zest. There is a zester that takes off julienne-style strips. Otherwise, I peel the lemon, cut off any white from it, then slice it thin, into julienne (very thin) strips! Good luck.

      • Will says:

        Thanks, Susan!

        I bought one of those gizmos yesterday and I’ll use it next time I make this recipe which will likely be tonight. So damn easy and good!

  2. Nadia says:

    You did not mention if you toasted your pine nuts, I usually toast mine. Made a very similar pasta a few days ago and add a bit of fresh chevre. Was delicious.

    • Susan says:

      Nadia, I didn’t toast them this time, and I loved it that way. Sometimes I do. The beauty of this recipe is the clarity of flavor, and the simplicity of the ingredients!

  3. April says:

    Delicious recipe, already prepared it twice! The first time I added lemon juice, the second time I used preserved lemons for the julienne. Love those lemons! Thank you!

  4. Barbara Salonsky Chestney says:

    Lovely recipe Susan. I am writing to say hello from an old friend. I am the mother of Marc Salonsky who went to school with you in Paris at La Varenne. Marc is cooking now in Los Angeles and has his own business in Inglewood where he cooks (strictly healthy food) for the LA foodies. It gives my husband and I great pleasure to see what a happy and beautiful individual you are and that you are living the good life in France. Good luck with all. Babara Salonsky Chestney,,

    • Susan says:

      Barbara! I remember meeting you at La Varenne. When next I’m in L.A, I will look up Mark! I have the best memories! Thank you for writing!


  5. Sylvie says:

    Dear Susan,
    what a wonderful recipe.. we have a lemon tree which is packed with fruit, do you have a trick how to expand their life? preserving the zest?
    bonne journée

    • Susan says:

      You can make salted lemons; you can make preserved lemons; you can freeze the zest and freeze the juice….you can make lemon marmalade! Lucky you.

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