If you love lemons, then you have to try this dish. I randomly had a craving for lemon spaghetti, a meal I have never even had before, on Tuesday night. I have no idea why I wanted it, but I had a bag of lemons on hand and needed something I could toss together really quickly as I was in the middle of making a cake. Generally, I would have made some paninis or something on such a night but instead I had my husband pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery deli and I threw this together.
Because I've never actually had lemon spaghetti before, I'm not sure if this is truly a traditional recipe or not. I googled it and found several recipes that all seemed close to what I had in mind, the closest being a Giada De Laurentiis recipe from Food Network. Then I adjusted as usual to suit our tastes. I added some chicken to the dish because I wanted it to be more of a main dish rather than a side dish. I removed the skin from the rotisserie chicken (the traditional, not flavored version) and cut up the breast meat for this dish. I used about 1 1/2 breasts for four servings. This pasta would also be great served with pan-fried breaded chicken cutlets, fish or scallops.
1/2 pound spaghetti (I used whole wheat)
3 lemons (approx 1/2 cup juice plus a scant tablespoon of zest)
1/4 cup olive oil
Generous 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 T fresh basil (a good handful of leaves)
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 - 2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
Up to 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
Heat a large pot of water to boiling, add a generous pinch of salt, and add spaghetti. Cook until al dente (about 6 minutes for whole wheat). Meanwhile, in the bottom of serving bowl, combine lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest and thyme. Whisk together until incorporated. Slowly stream in olive oil while whisking. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Either drain pasta and reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water or transfer pasta with a slotted spoon from pot to bowl. (I just transfer the partially drained pasta with a slotted spoon since I'm going to add cooking water to thin the sauce anyway but if you are afraid you'll end up with too much water, drain it first because you'll need anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water.) Toss pasta with sauce to coat evenly and add in chicken. Stack basil leaves, roll, and chiffonade into ribbons. Add to pasta and top with additional Parmesan if desired.