Spaghetti al Limone

Have you ever read Cook’s Illustrated? Compared to other magazines that enter our house one way or another (Southern Living, Better Homes and Gardens, Good Housekeeping, &c.) Cook’s Illustrated is very different. In fact, it seems to be the least illustrated magazine around.

But I have nothing but high praise for this magazine. So far I have loved everything that we have made out of it, including this Spaghetti al Limone.

Spaghetti al Limone (Featured)

Spaghetti al Limone

from Rachel Toomey Kelsey in Cook’s Illustrated, Number 108 (January & February 2011)


  • Table salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 medium shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest and ¼ cup juice from 2 lemons
  • 1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese (about ½ cup), plus more for serving
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons shredded fresh basil leaves


Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta to boiling water; cook, stirring frequently, until al dente [check the pasta package for details; ours took 9 minutes]. Reserve 1¾ cups cooking water, drain pasta into colander, and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add shallot and ½ teaspoon salt; cook until shallot is softened, about 2 minutes. Whisk 1½ cups of reserved pasta cooking water and cream into pot; bring to simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat, return pasta, and stir until coated [we were slightly worried at this point because the sauce seemed too runny, but it turned out just fine in the end]. Stir in remaining 3 tablespoons oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, cheese, and ½ teaspoon pepper.

Cover and let pasta stand 2 minutes, tossing frequently and adjusting consistency with remaining ¼ cup reserved pasta water if necessary [we didn’t need to add any extra pasta water after mixing it all together]. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper to taste [we didn’t have any fresh basil on hand, so left it out]. Serve, drizzling individual portions with oil and sprinkling with cheese.

Spaghetti al Limone 1


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