Lemon Water Spaghetti, a delicious avant-garde and unique pasta recipe.
This divine lemon water spaghetti is based on a recipe by Neapolitan Michelin star chef, Peppe Guida. With just 3 ingredients and some good olive oil, you can create a plate of pasta your guests will never forget
Spaghetti all’acqua di limone e provolone.
I came across this recipe whilst searching for a pasta dish to make with some provolone cheese I bought back from Sicily last week. Provolone is a spun or stretched curd cheese, which originated in Southern Italy but is popular today throughout the country, especially here in the North.
(Click to go straight to recipe)
There are different types of this cheese, of course. Young provolone (dolce) is softer and sweeter. Aged provolone (piccante) is sharper. There are two provolone cheeses that have European Union protected designation of origin (DOP) status in Italy. This guarantees that these cheeses were made by local farmers using traditional methods.
The first DOP provolone is provolone Valpadana, which is made in the Northern Italian area known as the Padana Plain. The second is provolone del Monaco. This cheese comes from Naples and is made from the milk of cows reared only within Naples province. In addition, twenty percent of the milk used to produce this cheese comes from a particular breed of cow, the Agerolese.
The original recipe for lemon water spaghetti includes provolone del Monaco, which is generally sweeter than the cheese I used. However, my cheese was actually ‘spun’ or ‘stretched’ around a lemon! This rather unusual process gives the cheese a slightly lemony flavour, which I thought would work well in this recipe. And it did!
The other ingredients!
Apart from the cheese, this lemon water spaghetti recipe includes only olive oil, lemons and basil. The olive oil really needs to be extra virgin and of a good quality, as it is added to the pasta cooking water. The best lemons to use are, of course, those from Sorrento. I didn’t have any of those, but I went with organic lemons as they tend to have much more flavour than the normal lemons we find in the supermarket.
Finally, I added basil as my herb of choice. Peppe Guida’s recipe includes dried and crushed lemon leaves instead. I’d like to remake this recipe with lemon leaves but once again, I didn’t have any. I did think about stealing some from my neighbour’s tree! But basil and lemon go so well together, I decided to save that idea for next time!
The trick to this lemon water spaghetti is…
The first step to making lemon water spaghetti is to leave the rind of 3 lemons to infuse in ½ litre of water for 12 hours or overnight. This then becomes the water you cook the spaghetti in! Yes! the pasta is cooked in a very small quantity of water! It’s important to keep stirring the spaghetti as it cooks so the strands won’t stick together. The finally sauce is quite creamy. However, it’s actually just the starch from the pasta which is released into the lemon water as the pasta cooks. This is a little sticky, so that’s why it’s important to keep stirring and also why the addition of olive oil is necessary.
When I first saw this lemon water spaghetti recipe I was intrigued, but skeptical! Cooking pasta in so little liquid seems almost un-Italian! Having made it and eaten it with much enjoyment, I have to say it’s fabulous. I’m sure if you try it, you’ll think the same.
(Go to next page to see recipe. Just scroll down and click 2)
I made this recipe but I think I did something wrong. It turned out very bitter and had a strange rind flavor. Is the white part of the rind supposed to be in the essence water?
Hi Leah, thanks for your comment. I’m sorry to hear that this recipe didn’t turn out well for you. There should be no problem having the squeezed lemon quarters in the essence water. But,you need to avoid the white pith when making the grated lemon rind (zest) because that will make it bitter. Alternatively, it could just have been the type of lemons you used. It’s difficult to say without seeing your ingredients.
Melodee MacKinnon says
I am in Naples now and am so happy I found your site. I was looking for a lemon pasta recipe that I had when in the area before. I am inspired by your site- the history, breadth of pasta and the recipes! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your love with others that love cooking, pasta and delicious food as well!
Hi Melodee, thanks so much for your comment. I feel blessed to have a job that I really enjoy and is much appreciated by others like yourself! I have 3 lemon pasta recipes here so you should try them all!
Wow! I tried this recipe today and it turned out perfect! Incredibly delicious! Paired with a plain tomato salad it was like serving up summer on a plate.
Catherine Brown says
Oh, hey now… lemon water pasta?? You, ma’am, have my attention! I LOVE all things lemon, but have never seen THIS before! THIS I must make ASAP!
I’ve never heard of lemon water pasta but sounds super light and refreshing! Thanks for sharing.
I love your blog. I am Italian and never heard of this pasta…but looks delicious so I will make it soon for my family. Thank you for sharing your love for pasta.
Wow! I didn’t know you could cook pasta in so little water! This pasta is so intriguing! I am in love with lemons and I have fresh basil in the garden! Thanks for the inspiration! I’m totally giving this one a try!
Happy you want to try this Beth! It’s really good even though the pasta is cooked in very little water! I’m sure you’ll love it! Baci from Verona!