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a bowl of bucatini with lemon garlic sauce topped with parmesan and lemon breadcrumbs on a tiled marble background with a serving pan of pasta and a bottle of wine, wineglass and a bowl of toasted breadcrumbs and sprinkling of crushed red pepper.

Easy Lemon Garlic Pasta with Zesty Breadcrumbs

A one pan pasta dish that can be on the table in under 30 minutes.
Course Dinner, Pasta, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian, Mediterranean
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Breadcrumb Prep 3 minutes
Total Time 23 minutes


Lemon + Parmesan Breadcrumbs

For the pasta


For the breadcrumbs

  • Melt butter and olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. 
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Add the breadcrumbs and salt and toast stirring constantly for approximately two minutes until golden brown.
    ½ cup panko breadcrumbs, ½ teaspoon salt
  • Off heat, stir in parmesan and 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest, reserving the remainder for the sauce, and set aside.
    ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1 lemon

For the pasta:

  • Cook the pasta according to package directions in at least  quarts of salted water. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water before draining.
    ½ lb bucatini
  • Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
    2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sauté the onion for about 3 minutes adding salt and pepper. You want the onion to be golden brown. Then add the garlic and sauté briefly for about 30 seconds.
    1/2 onion, 4 cloves garlic
  • To onions and garlic, add the white wine -cook for 2 minutes to burn off the alcohol. Add the chicken broth, the lemon juice and remaining zest. Continue cooking over medium heat and add the butter to help thicken the sauce.
    ½ cup dry white wine, 4 tablespoons chicken broth, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • Add the pasta to the sauce, stirring to meld the sauce and pasta together for a minute or two.
  • Starting with 1/4 cup, add the reserved pasta water and continue to cook for about a minute or two, tossing gently with tongs.
    1 cup reserved pasta water
  • Next, add the spinach lightly tossing until wilted. Remove from heat.
    Toss in parmesan, stirring to coat. Sprinkle over a generous topping of breadcrumbs and sprinkling of crushed red pepper, if using. 
    1/2 bag fresh spinach leaves, 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper
  • Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. 
    salt and pepper


*I recently adjusted this recipe due to some reader feedback and you'll now add the parmesan cheese off the heat right at the end of tossing the pasta, pasta water and sauce.