A refreshing pasta dish flavored with garlic, olive oil, fresh cilantro, lemon, and Parmesan.
Many of my creations in the kitchen are an outcome of throwing all my about-to-expire ingredients into one saucepan and seeing what happens. Sometimes it tastes awful, such as when I thought I was on to something when combining pasta with chocolate, but other times it tastes like magic—which is how this pasta came to be. It turned out so good that it’s now one of my favorite light and easy meals.
This pasta is similar to the well-known pasta aglio e olio, which is made with olive oil and garlic, but I did make a few adjustments; instead of parsley I’m using cilantro, I add both lemon juice and zest, and rather than just sprinkling Parmesan on top of every dish, I mix some with the pasta for plenty of extra flavor.
The lemon taste isn’t strong, and its subtlety helps to make this dish refreshing and fragrant, but you can add more of it if you want. Personally, I just don’t like the sour taste it gives when adding too much of it.
- 450 g/1 pound pasta (fettuccine or spaghetti are recommended)
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 large cloves garlic , finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Grated zest from 1/2 small lemon
- 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
- 1/2 – 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
To make the pasta: In a large pot, bring 4 quarts/liters of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt, followed by the pasta. Cook until al dente (i.e., slightly firm to the bite, not crunchy nor soft). Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water, and drain the pasta.
As the pasta boils, make the sauce: In a large skillet (large enough to accommodate the pasta), heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant and tender, stirring occasionally, 2-3 minutes. Carefully add the reserved pasta cooking water in a slow stream, and simmer until water has reduced by about a third, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat and stir in 1/2 teaspoon table salt, lemon juice, lemon zest, and cooked pasta, and toss. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro and Parmesan (start with ½ cup and add more as you wish).
Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for 3 days.