Pasta al Limone (Lemon Water Spaghetti)

Bowl of Pasta al Limone with fresh lemons and dried lemon leaf garnish
Pasta al Limone

Winter sunshine infused into a simple spaghetti dish. Lemons are piled high in the market, and the citrus trees are full of fruit. We all love to use lemons in the summer. However, like all citrus fruits, lemons ripen in the winter when they are at their juiciest best.

Only Four Ingredients

Less is more in this famous recipe. It takes no time to cook. Ideally, however, you should soak the lemons in water the night before (or for a good few hours). Google Pasta al Limone (Lemon Water Pasta), and you will find many beautiful recipes that all include cream. I love this dish because it has only four ingredients; pasta, lemon, olive oil and Parmesan or, traditionally, Provolone cheese (if you can source it). Pasta al Limone but without cream 😁. I have made a few herb suggestions, and you could also add a pinch of chilli flakes, but lemon is the star here, so use sparingly.

Pasta al Limone Origins

This is an absolute must if you are staring at a tree heavy with lemons. Created by the very famous and outstanding Italian chef Peppe Guida, Pasta al Limone or Lemon Water Spaghetti is a signature dish at his restaurant. I first heard about it in the summer but couldn’t find a recipe; it seems obvious now, but so glad I discovered its creator.

I have, of course, adapted the recipe but stayed true to its simplicity. Use organic unwaxed lemons and the best quality extra virgin olive oil.

😁🍋😃You will not be disappointed. More Pasta inspiration here🍋🍋🍋

Spaghetti al Limone (Spaghetti with Lemon Water)

Simple, zesty fresh tasting pasta with only four ingredients. Ready in the time it takes to cook the spaghetti.
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Course: first course, pasta, primi piatti
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: easy, lemon, pasta, vegetarian, zesty
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Soak lemons overnight.: 12 hours
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 2 people
Author: The Wild Epicurean


  • 3 organic unwaxed lemons, two quartered and one zested
  • 300 g spaghetti , linguine or fine tagliatelle I used wholemeal spaghetti.
  • 100 g finely grated provolone or parmesan cheese (plus extra to serve) I used parmesan as I couldn't buy provolone
  • 1 dried lemon leaf (see notes)
  • olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • optional herbs to flavour, small sprig thyme OR basil OR mint. Use sparingly – LEMON is the flavour here


  • Add the 2 quartered lemons to a high sided saucepan, cover with 500ml of boiling water. Leave overnight or for a good few hours.
  • Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the spaghetti. Cook for about 2 minutes. Drain and add to the now boiling LEMON water. Add a tablespoonfor olive oil and a little salt . Omit the preboiling if you are using fresh pasta.
  • Boil gently, carefully squeezing the lemons to release their juice with the back of a wooden spoon. You may need to add more boiling water to stop it from sticking. It is a delicate balance between sticking and absorbing the lemon water!
  • Drain reserving a 80ml of the lemon water, remove the lemons.
  • Immediately add the parmesan, half of the zest, little lemon water and olive oil. Work quickly and toss well, or the cheese will clump together.
  • Serve immediately with the rest of the lemon zest, lemon leaf and a little freshly grated parmesan. Serve with freshly ground black pepper.


De-vein and grind dried lemon leaves in a mini-food mill or spice grinder. Store in a jar for a month and use to add a lemony topping to pasta, meat or cauliflower cheese!
(I dried a batch of lemon leaves when making the mincemeat as the oven was on a very low setting – I left them for about 20 minutes).


Serving: 1g | Calories: 449kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 44mg | Sodium: 772mg | Potassium: 352mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 476IU | Vitamin C: 86mg | Calcium: 620mg | Iron: 3mg

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