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Simple and Easy Lemon Spaghetti

I couldn't wait to share this recipe with you!! There's something about the long, dark winter that makes me crave creamy lemon pasta with an embarrassing amount of Parmesan cheese grated on top. This lemon spaghetti is similar to an alfredo, but lightened up with less cream, and a whole lemon squeezed in for an extra slap of flavor. I'm also a big fan of how easy this is to whip up which makes it fabulous for nights you don't feel like cooking.

My personal favorite pasta for this is spaghetti, but you could absolutely use fusilli, penne, rigatoni.....any pasta! One of the tricks I like to use to make sure the pasta is always al dente (which, in Italian means "to the tooth"......you want it firm to the bite, but not crunchy), is cook the pasta 3 minutes less than the package suggests. And if your pasta finishes cooking before your sauce is ready, toss a couple of tablespoons into the drained pasta (I drain it and put it back in the same pot).

overhead of spaghetti in a creamy sauce in a pan

To elevate this dish even more:

After you dish it up, garnish each bowl with more fresh lemon zest and a sprinkle of Maldon salt.

Sprinkle with fresh chives before serving.

Add cooked shrimp or cooked chicken to the pan right before serving.

Add cooked asparagus, broccolini or crispy prosciutto, right before serving.

What to do with leftovers:

If you're lucky enough to have leftovers, this stores really well in the fridge. Store it in a covered container and reheat it over low heat. You may need to add a touch more cream to bring the sauce back to life and loosen it up.

If you're cooking for 1 or 2 people:

This recipe is easily cut in 1/2, so use 1/2 of each of the ingredients and you'll have a fabulous dinner for 1.....or 2!

What show goes well with this?

You may, or may not, know my husband and I are fairly recent empty nesters. Which means most nights we eat dinner in front of our current favorite TV show. I thought it would be fun to pair some recipes with TV shows or movies, so if, like us, you love watching a show and eating dinner. And who wants to waste time scrolling through all the streaming services trying to find something to watch!

Right now we're watching The Tourist on Netflix and it's off to an excellent start! It's about a man (played by Jamie Dornan) who gets in a car accident in the Australian outback (not a spoiler.....this literally happens in the first 5 minutes) and wakes up with no clue who he is, and it needs to figure it out really quick before his mysterious past catches up with him.

Time for the FAQs!

CAN I USE A DAIRY FREE MILK (ALMOND/COCONUT/OAT)?

I'm not dairy free, and have only used full fat whipping cream for this, so if you use a dairy free option I'd love you to leave a comment and let us know how it turns out!

CAN I ADD BACON TO THIS?

Ohhhhh what a great question! And the answer is YES!!! Bacon would be amazing and so would prosciutto. I'd precook the bacon in the same pan before you add the olive oil and garlic. Remove the bacon and set it aside, but leave any bacon bits in the pan. Then you'll have the fabulous bacon in the pan which will add a ton of tastiness to the dish.

DO I MAKE THE PASTA FIRST OR THE SAUCE?

I totally understand that sometimes quick and easy dinners can be a little overwhelming when it comes to timing and getting everything to the table hot. While you're waiting for the water to boil, assemble and prep all your ingredients. If you're adding bacon or proscuitto, cook it now. Mince the garlic. Chop the parsley. Grate the cheese. When you add the pasta to the pot, start the sauce. Don't forget to put the strainer in the sink! Have I told you the time I completely forgot to put the pasta strainer in the sink? I was hurrying to get dinner ready because both kids needed to get out the door for soccer practice in like 10 minutes. Pasta was all done, so I went to strain it in the sink. Except there was no strainer. Yep, I dumped an ENTIRE box of cooked pasta into my sink. And, yes, I cried. So, consider this a PSA to always remember to put your pasta strainer in your sink.

I RAN OUT OF PARMESAN CHEESE -- WHAT DO I DO?

Can you send a husband or teenager to the store to buy some? If you don't have Parmesan cheese, do you have Gruyere? Asiago? Pecorino Romano? Any of those would work!

WHY DO YOU TAKE THE SKILLET OFF THE STOVE BEFORE ADDING THE LEMON JUICE?

You don't want the lemon juice to curdle the sauce. By taking the skillet off the stove and removing it from the heat source, your pan will cool slightly and allow the lemon juice to easily mix in with the cream without curdling.

DOES IT REALLY MATTER IF I ADD PASTA WATER TO THE SAUCE?

YES! The starch in the pasta water not only adds extra flavor to your sauce, but it will give the sauce some extra body and glossiness. But, if you're reading this now and have already dumped your pasta water, no worries.....your sauce will taste delicious without it! Remember to reserve it for the next time.

Serve this with:

Fennel and Orange Salad

Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad

Broccolini with Garlic

Herb Garlic Bread

Overhead shot of breaded chicken with asparagus, topped with tomato confit on patterned plate

Easy Chicken Parmesan Recipe with Tomato Confit

A tasty twist on the traditional that substitutes tomato confit for marinara sauce, adds plenty of seasonings to the flour and breadcrumbs to elevate the flavor and makes for a delicious dinner when you're craving a crunchy, flavorful chicken dinner!
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Course: casual dinner, chicken dinner, weeknight dinner
Cuisine: dinner, Italian
Keyword: chicken dinner, chicken parmesan, easy chicken dinner
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken breasts, pounded thin
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

For Tomato Confit

  • 4 tomatoes quartered (you can use Roma, large tomatoes or cherry tomatoes)
  • 6 whole garlic cloves, in or out of their paper layer
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • sprinkle red pepper flakes, optional if you like a bit of heat

Instructions

  • Thanks so much for stopping by! If you have any questions about this recipe, scroll on up for some FAQs! Don't forget to leave a comment and review......Happy Cooking!
  • Place saran wrap on a clean surface. I use my kitchen counter, but you can use a table or island, but be sure it's sturdy enough to withstand pounding the chicken. Be sure saran wrap covers the entire surface, then place the chicken on the surface, and spread it out because the chicken will spread as you pound it to create thin pieces. Cover the chicken with saran wrap, and use a mallet or rolling pin to pound the pieces until they are 1/4-1/2 inch thick.
  • Once all your pieces of chicken are pounded thin, assemble your flour, egg and breadcrumb ingredients and place a sheet pan on the counter.
  • I like to use shallow bowls or Pyrex dishes. Add flour and smoked paprika to one dish. In the 2nd dish, add the 2 eggs. In the 3rd dish, add the breadcrumbs, dried thyme and dried rosemary.
  • Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Dredge the chicken through the flour, on both sides, and gently shake off any excess flour.
  • Dip chicken, on both sides, in the egg wash. Before moving on to the breadcrumbs, let excess egg wash fall back into the dish.
  • Gently press chicken, on both sides, into bread crumb mixture. When finished, place on sheet pan and go through the breading process again until all the chicken is breaded.
  • Before cooking, get another sheet pan or large platter and place a rack on top. This is where you'll put the cooked chicken to keep it crunchy until you're ready to serve. If you place the cooked chicken directly on a sheet pan, the bottom will get soggy because it will steam from the heat. And that's not what we want.
  • Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan, and when it shimmers and easily slides over the pan, it's time to add the chicken.
  • Depending on how big your chicken is, you may have to cook it in batches. Add chicken to skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until its golden brown.
  • While chicken is warm, sprinkle with Maldon salt and grated lemon zest.
  • Spoon tomato confit on top and serve while hot.

For Tomato Confit

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • In an oven safe gratin dish, pie dish or Pyrex, add the tomatoes, garlic, thyme and olive oil. Add enough olive oil to completely coat and cover the tomatoes.
  • Cook until the tomatoes get shriveled up and the oil is bubbling - about 30-45 minutes. My oven runs hot, so I start it at 400 degrees F for 45 minutes, and then turn it down to 350 degrees F for an additional 15 minutes. Keep an eye because you don't want the tomatoes to burn. It's ok if they get a bit brown and golden, though.
  • Remove from oven and use a fork to mash the garlic into a paste (this will be very easy!) and mix it into the confit.
  • If you've kept the cloves in their paper, carefully remove from the baking dish with a fork and let them cool. When you can safely handle them, press on the end to squeeze the clove out of the paper. Add the clove to the baking dish with the tomatoes, and gently press with a fork to mash.
  • You will probably use up all the tomatoes and have leftover flavored olive oil. This olive oil is liquid gold!! Use it in salad dressings, drizzle over vegetables before roasting, use it to sauté fish or scramble eggs.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.
Have you made this recipe?I'd love to know! Leave a comment or recipe rating and tag me @amenuforyou on social media!

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