December 29, 2010

pasta with lemon and basil

Isn't it strange that the season for citrus fruits is in the winter? When I think of lemons, I think of fresh lemonade on a hot summer day. I think of lemon bars and iced tea with lemon... you get the idea.

This particular citrus is the most flavorful, crisp and ripe in February. So when all the rest of the produce looks sad and dingy, we have bright beautiful lemons to look forward to.

I know the idea of lemons and pasta sounds strange, but the flavor is fresh and subtle. You get a strong earthy taste from the basil, and in the background is a slight lemon taste. It's really wonderful.

I served this with grilled chicken. I marinated my chicken breasts for 30 minutes or so in a plastic bag. I got a small bowl and whisked together the juice of 1 lemon, about 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon of honey. Pour that over the chicken and after 30 minutes, cook it on a grill pan. Fantastic flavor.

To make the pasta, cook up one pound of your favorite. I used vegetable rotini because Michael was coming over for dinner and he loves rotini.

The sauce is easy. It's a simple white sauce - milk, butter and flour. Then when the sauce is nice and thick, you turn off the heat and add asiago cheese, a squeeze of lemon juice and a bunch of fresh basil.

Now I'm going to teach you how to chiffonade! I hope this isn't insulting your culinary intelligence. I figured it might be useful for some.

Stack up your beautiful, bright green leaves of basil (not). Thanks, Food Lion, for this wilted basil.

Roll it up like a joint.

Or a jelly roll. Or a log. Whatever you understand the best... (jelly roll).

Just work down the basil leaves cutting thin strips.

Then be amazed by your perfect strips of basil!

Chiffonade. It's the way to go.

If you're in the mood for something a little different, try this recipe!

Pasta with Lemon and Basil

1 pound cooked pasta
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup 2% milk
2 tablespoons flour
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup fresh grated asiago or parmesan cheese
1 cup fresh basil,CHIFFONADE

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add flour and mix with butter until it forms a paste, which is your thickening agent for this sauce. Let it cook for just a few minutes, then add the milk slowly, whisking constantly. Keep whisking on medium low heat until thick, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and add cheese, lemon juice and basil. Combine. Toss with pasta. Top pasta with more cheese and basil, if desired. Serve immediately.


  1. This pasta looks fabulous.

    When we moved to Florida 2 years ago, I was surprised to discover that lemons (and oranges) are winter fruits. It turns out that November and December here can be VERY warm and then that glass of fresh lemonade is ridiculously refreshing.

    Sorry for the self-promotion but I actually have a little story about fresh lemonade in the winter on my blog here:

    Have a look if you get the chance. I think you'll like the picture of bumpy lemons.

  2. This was SO GOOD. I loved the flavor of the chicken :)

  3. Did you really suggest that folks roll it up like a joint??? Girl, you crack me up!!!!

  4. Seriously cracking up, a joint or jelly roll haha! Regardless, looks great. I've been so sick and craving some lemon, yay!

  5. You are so funny...I am making this one night this week. I love basil, I love lemon, but I would never think to put them together!

  6. I know you're on cloud 9 right now, but I just had to tell you that I made this just now and it is AMAZING! So delicious. And I discovered my new favorite veggie pasta in the process... Ronzoni Garden Delight Rotini. It has great flavor & texture and it's healthy! Thanks Jenna!!