Lemon Creme Fraiche and Parmesan Pasta

What follows is a recipe that is both high achieving and remarkably low maintenance.

The high achieving bit?

Well, it might be about the multiple ways the life affirming spritz of lemon finds its way into this ever-so-simple bowl of carbs. For one, the whole fist-sized fruit (minus half its zest) takes a bath in the pasta water as it comes to the boil- leaching its cheerful flavour into the water, and by default, into the noodles as they cook.  For two, it’s about the sheer magnitude of juice that can find its way out of citrus when its warmed (try microwaving a lime for fifteen seconds before you squeeze it into your next G & T).

It could also be about how the acid of the lemon twinkles against the aniseed of tarragon (though basil would also be grand). There’s a small chance it also relates to the way a small cackle of spice comes from a double act of black pepper and some finely shredded arugula/rocket leaves.

But maybe it’s just be that we’re not supposed to be talking about lemons yet.

We were supposed to be talking about lemons next week. That was when the poppy seed/blueberry/sprout/ plum/ clementine we affectionately refer to as ‘the stowaway’ was scheduled to advance to the size of yellow citrus.

Except, it’s not half the child of someone I dubbed ‘The Hungry One’ for nothing. The last scan revealed it’s measuring….tall. It’s either older than they first thought (though I have my own suspicions about that), or it’s showing itself to be a mite bigger than the average bear.

And so we’ve had to shift things up a bit.

Not that I’m complaining too much. Any excuse to sit on the couch and eat a bowl of this pasta is a good one. And gosh, don’t I feel like noodles.

Right now there are moments in a day when hunger will startle me, slipping its fingers over my eyes in an assertive game of ‘guess who’. It takes me a moment to recognise it. ‘Do I feel tired? Do I feel a bit sick?’ No, turns out I’m just starving. That’s the eat-the-entire-box-of-crackers-while-standing-in-front-of-the-fridge kind of ravenous, inhale two bananas, not even stopping between the nub of one and the peel of another kind of appetite. The kind of hunger that doesn’t obey scheduled meal times. It’s just as likely to crop up at 10.17 am as it is at the sensible, previously ordained meal break of 1 pm.

This is a pasta that’s perfect for those moments. It’s quick- particularly if you rely on fresh pasta (I have a long documented weakness for tortellini- spinach and ricotta goes down a treat here).

And the heavy lifting comes from things which usually are sheltering in my fridge – some forlorn scraps of bitter leaves and herbs, a lemon, a splodge or two of creme fraiche or double cream and a hunk of parmesan.

You can eat it at the dinner table with damask napkins and the good water glasses. Eat it on the couch. Or eat it straight out of the saucepan- I’m certainly in no position to judge.

Lemon Creme Fraiche and Parmesan Pasta

Serves 2 (or one very, very hungry one).


1 zester/microplane grater.  1 saucepan with a lid. 1 strainer.


1 lemon
4 tablespoons of creme fraiche or double cream
1 small bunch of tarragon or basil
30 grams of parmesan
Fresh black pepper
400 grams of fresh tortellini (spinach and ricotta is nice) or other  fresh pasta
1 generous handful of rocket/arugula
Here’s how we roll

1) Zest half of the lemon and mix it together with the creme fraiche, tarragon, grated parmesan and black pepper.

2) Place the zested lemon in a saucepan enough salted water to cook the pasta in.  Place the lid on and bring to the boil.

3) Once the water has come to a rolling boil remove the lemon.

4) Add the pasta to the boiling lemon-scented water and cook until al dente.

5) Combine the warm pasta with the juice of the lemon, creme fraiche mix and arugula and mix well. Season with additional salt if it needs it. Add a little extra parmesan and black pepper before serving.

Forty Weeks of Feasting; the  journey so far

Wk 13 Clementine/Mandarin Curd. Recipe here.
Wk 12 Plum and tomato tartines. Recipe here
Wk 11 Sprout and mushroom gratin. Recipe here
Wk 10 Date tart. Recipe here
Wk 9 Baby chickens, with roasted grapes. Recipe here.
Wk 8 Raspberries and elderflower spritz. Recipe here.
Wk 7 Blueberry pancakes. Recipe here
Wk 6 Lentil and ginger soup. Recipe here
Wk 5 Sesame Miso Crisps. Recipe here
Wk 4 Poppy seed scrolled loaf. Recipe here.
  1. I love the tip of boiling the whole lemon in the pasta water… brilliant!

  2. Clever trick! I’ve put the halves of squeezed lemons in the pasta water before, but you are right, this way would get so much more juice out!

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