Pasta with Lemon Caper Sauce

Pasta with Lemon Caper Sauce
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Pasta with lemon caper sauce
This dish is surprisingly light- tasting. Perfect for summer!

As we move into summer, we opt for those lighter, faster, easier meals. Who wants to be cooking over a hot stove for even an hour, when it’s over 100°F? Of course, it’s not that hot in the house, but, sometimes when we look out at the bright blue sky and feel the heat pouring in through the windows, it can feel pretty toasty. So, simple is the way to go.

This dish is a perfect introduction to scratched pasta. There really isn’t anything to making the sauce; just mix a few ingredients in a skillet, toss in the pasta, and serve with Parmesan cheese. So, the pasta you toss in makes a difference; hence, make it yourself for a richer-tasting dinner. Plus, during these dog days of summer, faster- cooking, fresh pasta is a time and heat saver.

We never consulted a recipe for this particular dish. It’s a fully scratched exclusive.

Serves 2

Pasta with Lemon Caper Sauce

Pasta with Lemon Caper Sauce


  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs capers, drained
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 batch homemade pasta (cooked)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Abbreviated Instructions

Juice lemon.

Heat skillet over medium heat. Add butter, capers, pepper, and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes until sauce is slightly thickened. Add cooked pasta and stir to coat.

Serve immediately, topping with grated Parmesan.

Ingredient discussion:

We have five ingredients here: pasta, lemon juice, pepper, capers, and Parmesan cheese. Let’s make each one count. Buy a lemon and squeeze it yourself. We confess that we have made this with “realemon juice,” but it is nowhere near as good. The bottled lemon juice lacks a certain brightness of flavor. Besides, a lemon costs, what?, half-a-buck, and we think that’s worth it. Pasta, while you could use store-bought pasta, we urge you to try making your own. With this dish, we just cut the pasta sheets into pieces — essentially, extra-wide egg noodles. It’s easier than any other shape. For Parmesan cheese, we use a variety known as Grana Pardano. It’s not true Parmesan, as it doesn’t come from Parma, but it is a Parmesan-style cheese made in Italy. We think it’s just as good, but at half the price. Just make sure to use something you like, since the cheese is a major flavor provider for this dish.

Procedure in detail:

juicing a lemon
We think you can’t beat these old-fashioned reamers. They work great! Being glass, they clean up easily, too.

Squeeze lemon. We find that one of those old-fashioned citrus squeezers work really well. You know, the kind made of glass, with the reamer in the center and the pour spout. They get out all the juice and pulp with almost no effort. And, the best thing is, because they are a bit out of fashion, you can pick them up cheaply at resale shops or yard sales.

Boil water. Now’s the time you should put on the water for your pasta. If you’re using fresh pasta, remember that it will only take a couple of minutes and time your sauce accordingly.

We just put all the ingredients right into the juicer along with the juice. It's all going together anyway, so why not?
We just put all the ingredients right into the juicer along with the juice. It’s all going together anyway, so why not?
lemon caper sauce
The butter will emulsify (mix in) with the lemon juice, forming a slightly thickened sauce.

Make sauce. Place a skillet over medium heat and add butter, lemon juice, capers, and pepper. For preparation, we just measure the ingredients right into the juicer along with the lemon juice. Then when we’re ready to go, we just pour it all into the pan, and bring it to a simmer. The butter should emulsify to form a slightly creamy sauce — but not heavy; this is a light summer sauce. Turn the heat down to keep the sauce warm while the pasta boils.

adding pasta
Using fresh pasta means less boiling time. Less boiling time means less steam in the kitchen. Plus, it tastes way better.

Add pasta. Once your water is at a rolling boil, add the fresh pasta and cook until al dente, about 2-3 minutes. If you’re using commercial pasta, follow those directions. Once the pasta is done, drain and immediately pour it into the sauce, and stir to coat.

Pasta with lemon caper sauce
Serve with a generous amount of Parmesan cheese. We would be hard-pressed to think of another cheese that will stand up to the flavor of lemon.

Serve. Either divide amongst pasta bowls, or serve family-style in a large pasta bowl, remembering to top with a generous amount of Parmesan cheese.

This makes a bright, summery, and lemony-tasting sauce. Most people don’t necessarily think of pairing lemon with something as savory as Parmesan cheese, or even a peppery taste such as capers, but it works! The sauce is light enough that you don’t end up feeling bloated, but the pasta (preferably egg-based) provides you with enough complex carbohydrates to keep you from feeling hungry an hour or two later. Overall, we think this dinner is worthy of four stars.

Worth the trouble?

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