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Make My Life Easier; lemon pasta recipes

In the winter and spring my attention gravitates to anything lemon because I have a lemon production machine in my backyard, also known as a lemon tree. Even after heavy pruning, I give bags and bags to friends and neighbors every year.

I also consistently look for recipes that utilize plenty of vegetables because I grow much of my own produce inside and outside my home with another production machine — a tower garden.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and they make your life easier and filled with great taste experiences. See our other recent article about harvesting and storing lemons. AND we’ve included lots of interesting tips like— Did you know the lemon peel has 10 times more vitamins than the juice?

Lemony Pasta with Fried Zucchini and Basil

Adapted from americanhomecook.com
If you’re lucky enough to have a thriving zucchini plant that is giving plenty of fruit this summer, here is a versatile pasta “salad” that can be served warm or room temperature. It’s quick and easy, providing a good meat-free dish for a summer pot luck.

4 servings

  • Kosher salt
  • 8 oz penne, farfalle, or other similar pasta
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 small zucchini, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds  (or 2 large if you’ve let them grow for a few extra days)
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil or mint, torn or thinly sliced (I always use at least 1 cup or more)
  • Freshly cracked black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta 1 minute less than package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large skillet (preferably with high sides) over high heat until the oil is shimmering and looks like it’s thinned out slightly. Add half of the zucchini and fry until golden brown, 3-4 minutes per side. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, transfer the fried zucchini to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt. Repeat with remaining zucchini.

Turn off heat and add the garlic to the now-empty skillet, swirling the pan to ensure that the garlic doesn’t burn. Turn the heat on low and cook the garlic until soft and fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the red pepper flakes, lemon juice and zest, Parmesan cheese and ½ cup of pasta water. Bring to a simmer and whisk the mixture until well-combined.

Add the pasta to the skillet with the lemony sauce and toss, stirring constantly for about 1-2 minutes, until the pasta is al dente and the sauce sticks to the pasta. Add more pasta water if the sauce seems dry. Mix in the fried zucchini and basil. Taste and add more salt if needed.

To serve, top each portion with more Parmesan cheese and freshly cracked black pepper.

One-Pot Pasta With Ricotta and Lemon

This pasta dish comes together in such a short time and is from the New York Times. How long does it take to boil noodles and heat up a jar of marinara or your favorite store-bought sauce? The sauce is a mix of ricotta and Parmesan, with the zest and juice of one lemon thrown in. That’s it.

To make it more filling, add peas, asparagus or spinach or other greens from your garden in the last few minutes of the pasta boiling, or stir in fresh arugula or watercress with the sauce in Step 3. I’m keeping it for a weeknight and for-company. It’s that good!

4 servings

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound short, ribbed pasta, like gemelli or penne
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta (8 ounces)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino (2 ounces), plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest plus ¼ cup lemon juice (from 1 to 2 lemons)
  • Black pepper
  • Red-pepper flakes, for serving
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced or torn basil leaves, for serving (optional)


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.

In the same pot, make the sauce: Add the ricotta, Parmesan, lemon zest and juice, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper and stir until well combined.

Add ½ cup pasta water to the sauce and stir until smooth. Then add the pasta and continue to stir vigorously until the noodles are well coated. Use more pasta water as needed for a smooth sauce.

Divide the pasta among bowls and top with some of the sauce that’s pooled at the bottom of the pot. Garnish with grated Parmesan, black pepper, red-pepper flakes and basil, if using.

If you are trying to add more vegetables to your family’s diet, add some sautéed greens or steamed asparagus to the final mix.

Spaghetti al Limone

I selected this recipe because I had so many lemons on my tree this year and shared so many with friends and neighbors. And if you’re like me, anything with lemon will be good.

It also brings back wonderful memories of a lunch Brent and I had in Rome at a rooftop restaurant overlooking the Forum. I’ve tried many times to create the dish, but this is close to perfection. Add extra Parm at the table and top with sautéed fish, shrimp or chicken if desired.

4 to 6 servings

  • 1 lemon
  • 1½ cups dry white wine
  • ¾ to 1½ cups heavy cream, to taste
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons butter, in pieces
  • 3½ to 4 ounces Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to taste
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper, to taste.

Zest lemon and slice zest into matchsticks. Juice lemon, strain and reserve. Place zest in large nonreactive pan with wine and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium high and cook until it reduces to a syrupy mixture, about ¼ cup, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and pour in about ¼ cup of cream. Stir, then pour in remaining cream. Return to stove and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until it is thickened and reduced slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, bring large pot of generously salted water to boil. Cook pasta until al dente; reserve ½ cup cooking water and drain.

Return hot pasta pot to stove. Pour in cream, butter and lemon juice, stir, then add hot drained pasta and a few tablespoons of cooking water. Toss together and add cheese in three or four parts, tossing each to meld with sauce. Add more cooking water if sauce is too thick and crumbly.

Ladle onto plates and drizzle each portion with olive oil, then add a little salt and pepper.

Gwen O’Neill has been a gardener for over 40 years and has always been a passionate cook. Her own health challenges led her to experiencing a variety of healing modalities.

After finding that her health improved with eating more whole food and improving her nutrition using a real, whole food based supplement called Juice Plus, she committed to sharing this experience with others.

The Tower Garden by Juice Plus makes it easy to grow produce right outside your kitchen dootower garden trio

Juice Plus real food!


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