Pasta with Pecorino Cream, Lemon and Basil is a delicious and creamy recipe full of Mediterranean flavors. It’s a perfect recipe for summer, when the basil is tender and fragrant, excellent both hot and cold.
We used a short pasta, durum wheat mezze maniche rigate. Paccheri, rigatoni or penne are also good.
Short pasta is more suitable for this recipe if you want to enjoy the dish at room temperature or cold, because it keeps better when cooked al dente. If you prefer your pasta to be served hot, you can use long pasta, such as spaghetti.
The dressing, made with lemon zest, basil and pecorino cream, makes this dish simple but unique and exquisite.
Creamy pecorino and lemon pasta is prepared in the same way as Cacio e Pepe recipe. In fact, you have to use the cooking water, rich in starch, to make the pecorino cream. Therefore, don’t use cream, butter or fatty cheese spreads or other sauces.
Lemon zest and basil add freshness and fragrance to the strong, intense flavor of pecorino. Of course, we recommend using organic lemons with untreated zest.
This lemon pecorino pasta recipe is quick to make, perfect for everyday meals or a summer dinner with friends. But it’s also great for a special, elegant dinner, given its simple sophistication.
To add a touch of crispness and elegance to the dish, you can add fried basil leaves, as we are going to show you.
So let’s see how to make this tasty and aromatic pasta with pecorino cream, lemon and basil, with all the steps and our tips.
- Lemon spaghetti
- Linguine al Pesto with Red Shrimp Tartare and Lemon
- Angel hair with pesto and cherry tomatoes
- Trofie al Pesto
How to Make Pasta with Pecorino Cream, Lemon and Basil
- Prep Time: 10 Min
- Cook Time: 12 Min
- Servings: 4
- 350 g (3/4 pound) of Mezze Maniche rigate. You can also use any other type of short pasta, such as paccheri, rigatoni, or penne.
- 1 large organic lemon
- 200 g (~ 2 cups) of Pecorino Romano. Try this authentic Pecorino Romano DOP, perfect for this recipe.
- 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- about 20 leaves of fresh basil
- 1 1/2 liters (6 1/3 cups) of water
- 1/2 tablespoon of coarse salt
Step 1) – First boil the water to cook the pasta.
IMPORTANT! It’s important to use less water than usual to cook the pasta. In fact, the rule is that you need about 1 liter (~ 4 cups) of water for every 100 grams (3.5 oz) of pasta. For this recipe, however, we recommend using about 1/2 liter (~2 cups) of water for every 100 grams of pasta. In fact, the goal is to have starchy water.
Also remember to salt the water lightly. Half a tablespoon is enough. Pecorino Romano is very salty and if you add too much salt, you risk ruining the dish.
While waiting for the water to boil, grate the lemon zest. Be careful to grate only the superficial yellow part of the zest. The white part can make the dish bitter.
Step 2) – Next, grate the Pecorino Romano cheese so that you have it ready.
Finally, remove the basil leaves from the stalks. Wash and dry thoroughly between two paper towels.
Shred the basil leaves on a cutting board. Save 5-6 leaves whole for the final garnish.
Step 3) – When the water comes to a boil, add the pasta.
Meanwhile, in a large non-stick frying pan – over very low heat – add the grated pecorino cheese and the olive oil.
Step 4) – Add 1/2 ladle of the cooking water (rich in starch) to the pecorino and begin stirring to form a cream.
After one minute, turn off the heat and continue stirring. Add more water if necessary.
Step 5) – When the pasta is cooked (follow the pasta cooking time on the package), drain it into the pecorino cream and stir.
Still off the heat, add the chopped basil and lemon zest and mix well.
Serve hot or at room temperature. If you like, you can add more lemon zest and grated pecorino to each plate before serving.
Step 6) – Garnish creamy pecorino and lemon pasta with a few crispy basil leaves. See below for instructions on how to make crispy basil leaves for decoration.
How to Make Crispy Basil Leaves
Crispy basil leaves can be used in various recipes, especially to create an original garnish for various dishes, including pasta. A perfect way to impress and delight your guests.
Basil is basically fried in very little oil. This process gives the fragrant leaves a crunchy texture without losing any of their flavor.
There are three easy ways to prepare them: baking, microwaving, and pan frying. We’ve chosen to use the pan, which we’re sure you all have on hand.
Purchase a bunch of good quality basil with leaves that are not very large.
Carefully and very gently pull off all the leaves, run them under running water to wash them thoroughly, and then dry them.
IN THE FRYING PAN: In a large non-stick frying pan, pour just the right amount of vegetable oil for frying. A thin layer is sufficient; the leaves do not need to be submerged in the oil.
When the oil is hot, begin to add the well-dried basil leaves, a few at a time. They must remain in the oil for very little time. About 30 seconds, just long enough to get them nicely crisped.
At this point, use a skimmer to carefully remove them from the pan and place them on a plate with paper towels to dry off the excess oil.
Be careful not to fry the leaves too long so that they do not lose too much of their color and flavor.
IN THE OVEN: Arrange the basil leaves on a sheet of parchment paper. Brush them with a little oil. Bake in the oven for about 5 minutes. The oven should be at a temperature of about 160-170°C (320-338°F) and you will need to check the cooking from time to time. The temperature and oil will sear the basil and make it deliciously crispy.
IN A MICROWAVE OVEN: Actually, all you need to do is place the basil leaves between two sheets of food-safe plastic wrap and place them “suspended” on a deep dish. To vitrify the leaves, place the dish in the microwave at full power for about 2-3 minutes: this varies from microwave to microwave; in some cases, 30 seconds is enough.
How to Store Creamy Pecorino and Lemon Pasta
Pasta with pecorino cream, lemon and basil is one of those dishes that should be eaten as soon as they are ready. They are excellent both hot and at room temperature.
However, it’s necessary to consume them within an hour or so of preparation. In fact, with time, the pasta loses its creaminess and the lemon and basil tend to become slightly bitter.
Refrigeration and freezing are not recommended.
Pasta with Pecorino Cream, Lemon and Basil: Some Variations and Tips
PECORINO ROMANO: Pecorino Romano must be very well seasoned, otherwise you will not be able to get the right creaminess for this pasta. Try this authentic Italian Pecorino Romano DOP.
PARMIGIANO REGGIANO: If you prefer a softer taste, you can add half a dose of Parmigiano Reggiano, also very well seasoned. We recommend this Parmigiano Reggiano aged 36 months. Also great to eat on its own paired with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar of Modena!
ORANGE OR LEMON: Instead of lemon, you can use orange zest or a mixture of the two. Both orange and lemon go well with the flavor of basil.
PASTA: For the pasta format, as mentioned above, you can use your favorite. We recommend long pasta, spaghetti or bucatini, if you want to eat it hot. Better short pasta – mezze maniche, paccheri or rigatoni – if you want to eat the dish cold or at room temperature. In any case, it must be durum wheat semolina pasta. Fresh egg pasta is not suitable for this recipe.