Lemon + garlic + basil is like the trio of the heavens. I am *hands down* always in the mood for these flavors, and always will be. All three are super bright, fresh, and vibrant. Whenever I want a light pasta dish that tickles the taste buds, I head to lemon/garlic/basil town and call it a day!
The veggies we added in this version are asparagus and kale, which go really well texture-wise and bring a wonderful boost of green and slight bitterness to balance everything out. The sauce is created with lemon juice and starchy pasta water, just enough to lightly coat, lubricate, and flavor the noodles. Sometimes I like to let the pasta and veggies really shine, without always drowning them in sauce. Mangia!
1/2 lb thin spaghetti
1 bunch asparagus, bottoms trimmed and chopped into 1 inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 strips lemon peel
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 large handful kale, washed, de-stemmed, and roughly chopped
8 basil leaves
juice of one lemon
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast, optional
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil spaghetti, stirring occasionally, for 9 minutes (or until al dente). Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven or deep skillet, add 2 Tbsp olive oil and place over medium heat. Add asparagus and saute for about 1 minute. Next add garlic, lemon peel, pinch of salt, and crushed red pepper flakes, and saute for a minute more. Add kale, cover to encourage wilting, and remove from heat. Set aside until pasta is done cooking.
Add cooked pasta and basil to the vegetables, along with lemon juice, and 1/2 cup pasta water. You can also add 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast at this point if you want it to have a ‘cheesy’/nutty flavor. Toss pasta to incorporate the vegetables and coat the noodles, adding more pasta water as necessary. Season dish with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with lemon peel on top.