Lemon Chili Pasta has been a dish that I started making close to 10 years ago, and it is still a dish that makes my mouth water every time I think about it. A light, bright, perfectly balanced mix of lemon, red chili flakes, garlic, and fresh chopped parsley puts me in pasta heaven. So simple, but sometimes simple food is the best food.
When you make this quick and easy pasta dish, you will want to have all of your ingredients prepped and ready ahead of time, including a pot of boiling, well-salted water. A chef that I worked with used to tell me he wanted the water “salty like the sea”. That is an important part of this dish and will really help the rest of the flavors sing.
Last night we served this dish with sauteed garlic shrimp, but it would also pair well with any fish or light-colored meat. Sometimes I don’t serve it with anything else. Just me, a giant bowl of this spicy pasta, and a glass of wine. Perfection!
Lemon Chili Pasta
1 lb spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
6 cloves garlic, fresh minced or grated on a zester
Zest from 2 lemons
1 teaspoon red chili flakes (less if you are not a fan of spice)
1 cup pasta water (reserved from cooking the pasta)
1/2 cup parsley, fresh chopped
Cook the pasta according to package directions in well-salted water until al dente, and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water right before you strain it.
In a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil. Add the garlic, lemon, chili flakes, salt, and pepper and cook until the garlic starts to foam. Whisk in the reserved pasta water and continue stirring until sauce appears to be “creamy” and thicken slightly. Add pasta and the freshly chopped parsley. Use a pair of tongs to toss the pasta until it is well coated with the lemon chili sauce. Remove the pan from the heat and serve.
Serves 4 (large portions) or up to 8 as a side dish.
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