Lemon Pasta with Basil-Garlic Breadcrumbs

This pasta is one of my favorites to make. It’s so easy, but it does require a certain amount of attention to detail.

For example, when making the sauce, be sure to reserve a little bit of pasta water – the starches in it from cooking the pasta help to thicken your sauce (this is a trick I learned ages ago from watching Everyday Italian, no joke). You also want to salt your water pretty heavily with Sea Salt, as that is where a lot of the flavor comes from. And lastly, whisk with fury! Ok, maybe not fury, but you want to whisk quickly otherwise the sauce won’t come together as nicely. You’ll want to use a wooden spoon to do the whisking too – don’t use an actual whisk, that would murder all of your pasta.

On another note, I’m a firm believer in taste being subjective, so if you don’t like salty pasta as much as I do, use a little less salt in the water. I also didn’t measure the pasta, I just used half of a 1 lb box and eyeballed it.

Alright…onto the recipe! I should also mention that this is inspired by one of my favorite dishes, the Spaghetti Limone from Supper restaurant in the East Village. His version is made with spaghetti (and don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing), but I wanted to add the basil-garlic breadcrumbs, so I used radiatore pasta to soak up all the sauce and catch all the breadcrumbs in it’s little crevices. SO. GOOD.

Special note: Owner of Supper, Frank Prisinzano, recommends warming the bowls/plates you’re serving the pasta in. A warm plate helps to keep the sauce together because of the butter. But if you forget, no judgment and it will still taste great. 

This recipe makes 2 servings, by the way.

Lemon Pasta with Basil-Garlic Breadcrumbs

  • 1/4 cup Sea Salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 lb radiatore pasta
  • Juice of 1 and 1/2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp cold, unsalted butter
  • Finely grated Parmesan cheese for serving


  1. Fill a medium-large pot with water for cooking your pasta. Add the Sea Salt. Taste the water. If it tastes like the ocean, you’re good to go. Bring to a boil.
  2. While the water comes to a boil, heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Then add the Panko breadcrumbs. When they’re lightly toasted (2-3 minutes), add the chopped garlic and basil and cook for another minute or two, being careful not to burn the garlic. If you feel it’s too dry, add another tbsp of olive oil. Season with a little salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes if you desire. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.
  3. Wipe out that pan and place back on the stove, no heat. Add the pasta to the water and cook until al dente.
  4. When the pasta is cooked, spoon a ladle or two of the pasta water into the pan you used for the breadcrumbs.
  5. Strain the pasta with a large slotted spoon or mesh strainer right into the other pan on the stove. Add the cold butter and the lemon juice and start whisking with a wooden spoon. You’ll do this for a couple minutes until the butter melts and the lemon comes together to emulsify into one beautiful lemony sauce. It should be thick enough to coat the bottom of the pan.
  6. Add the pasta to 2 bowls and drizzle over any extra sauce. Sprinkle with a generous amount of parmesan cheese and the garlic-basil breadcrumbs.
  7. NOM NOM!

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