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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

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • ½ cup

    panko breadcrumbs

    (or 1-2 slices leftover bread tossed in the food processor or blender)

  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lemon zested (and divided), then juiced

For the pasta

  • ½ lb bucatini or any other long strand pasta, cooked reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 tablespoons chicken broth see note below*
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter as needed
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water
  • ½ bag fresh spinach leaves washed and dried
  • ½ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese or more
  • crushed red pepper optional
  • salt and pepper to taste


For the breadcrumbs

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

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.
  • Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Add the pasta to the sauce, stirring to meld the sauce and pasta together for a minute or two.
    Starting with ¼ cup, add the reserved pasta water followed by the Parmesan and continue to cook for about a minute or two, tossing gently with tongs.
  • Next, add the spinach lightly tossing until wilted.
    Finish with more parmesan, a generous topping of breadcrumbs and sprinkling of crushed red pepper, if using. 
  • Serve immediately.