Spaghetti with lemon cream sauce

For some reason, I’ve been in a creamy pasta mood lately. Maybe I’ve been needing comfort food, maybe it’s just a phase, or maybe it’s seeing everyone’s Pinterest posts about creamy pasta. Who knows? In any case, I wanted something to go with our salmon fillets for dinner tonight, so I perused my Cooks Illustrated pasta cookbook and came across a simple dish of fettuccine with lemon cream sauce. We don’t typically have fettuccine, but spaghetti worked just fine. The finished dish was more than I could ever hoped for. Creamy and decadent, yet light at the same time. It went perfectly with our pan-seared salmon and steamed broccoli with butter and lemon zest (left over from the pasta dish).

Spaghetti with Lemon Cream Sauce

1 pound of dried spaghetti
1 1/3 cup plus 1/3 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (do yourself a favor and get the good stuff), lightly packed
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Salt
Pepper

In a large 6 quart pot, bring water and 1 tablespoon salt to a rolling boil. Cook pasta to al dente (or preferred tenderness) and drain. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water to thin sauce as needed (we didn’t need it).

Meanwhile, in a pot large enough to accommodate pasta, heat 1 1/3 cup cream, butter, and lemon juice over medium heat until cream just starts to simmer. Turn off heat.

Add drained pasta to sauce and add remaining 1/3 cup cream, cheese, lemon zest, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Agitate pasta using a pasta spoon or tongs and cook over low heat until sauce has thickened slightly and pasta is coated. Serve immediately.

Notes: This dish goes well with any firm fish or perhaps thinly pounded chicken breasts that have been lightly coated in flour and sautéed in olive oil or butter. Broccoli, asparagus, or any other vegetable that goes well with lemon works, too. The pasta alone was delicious enough and could easily be a meal by itself.

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