spaghetti spinach lemon cream sauce

Spaghetti with Spinach and Lemon Cream Sauce

This recipe for spaghetti with spinach and lemon cream sauce was a bit of an accident. I innocently ordered a bunch of spinach (along with other groceries) from Fresh Direct.  I expected, well a standard bunch of spinach. What I got was a “spinach tree.” It’s enormous. It’s so large I had to prop it up against a bottle of seltzer and a plant to take a photo of it.

spinachSo, if anyone from Google noticed a spike in searches for  ‘spinach recipes’ over the last few days, it was me.

I adapted this recipe from the Smitten Kitchen. She used basil (or arugula), and while I have basil growing in my window, I don’t have arugula.

Besides, there’s that enormous bunch of spinach to use up!

So, I combined the two.  A bit of basil, and a handful of spinach, some diluted Greek yogurt instead of the heavy cream (didn’t have the cream and couldn’t leave to get some), and dinner is served!

Spaghetti with Spinach and Lemon Cream Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Category: entree

Cuisine: Italian

one serving

spaghetti spinach lemon cream sauce

A great summer pasta dinner with fresh lemon, spinach, and a bit of cream.


  • one handful spaghetti (about 4 ounces), it should be about the diameter of a quarter
  • salt
  • 1 lemon (for juice and zest)
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil, plus a bit more when you serve the pasta
  • 1 T heavy cream*
  • 2 T finely grated Parmesan cheese (plus more when you serve the pasta)
  • Handful of spinach, washed thoroughly, shredded, or chiffonade (stack the leaves, roll them up so they look like a cigar, and then chop them cross-wise)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Boil a pot of water (a dutch oven will work nicely because it's wide enough to hold the pasta).  Salt the water and then add the pasta.  Cook about 8 minutes until it's al dente.
  2. As you wait for the pasta to cook, zest the lemon (you'll need about 3/4 of a teaspoon of zest). Then, squeeze the lemon to juice it (this works best if it's warm; if you had it in the fridge, pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds to warm it up). You'll get about 1-2 tablespoons.
  3. When the pasta is ready, drain it, keeping about 1/3 C of the water.
  4. Take a small saucepan and heat the olive oil, cream, lemon zest, and about half the reserved water.  Cook that on high heat for a minute.  Put the pasta back in the larger pot, add the lemon zest mixture, and stir until the pasta is coated with it.
  5. Add the parmesan, and half the lemon juice.  Stir and toss together thoroughly (I used a spaghetti spoon and a standard fork ) until the sauce is distributed evenly over the pasta.
  6. If you want your pasta "saucier" add more of the cooking water. Taste and add more lemon if you like.
  7. Stir in the basil and the spinach. Season with salt and pepper.  Top your pasta with extra olive oil and parmesan cheese and serve.

Substitutions and Variations for Spaghetti with Spinach and Lemon Cream Sauce

  • If you don’t have heavy cream, melt 1/3 C unsalted butter and add 3/4 C whole milk. This makes about a cup.
  • Use plain Greek yogurt and thin it out with a little milk. If you do this, add a little hot water to the mixture first, before putting it in the pasta. This will prevent it from curdling.
  • Use frozen peas instead of spinach (add to the pasta while it’s cooking and save yourself an extra pot to clean; put the peas in for about 3 minutes).
  • Add some leftover cooked chicken for more protein.

Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

I love the Smitten Kitchen blog (as does a friend who is a professional chef). Deb’s recipes are consistently good. And, her original kitchen was nearly as small as mine. Which just proves you don’t need a lot of space, drawerfuls of gadgets, or an enormous pantry to create delicious food.

Everything is made from real ingredients, and ingredients that are easy to find. I know it really bugs me when some recipe calls for a teaspoon of some exotic ingredient I’ll never use again! One thing about this book is that the format spreads the recipes over more than one page, so it can be a bit hard to follow.

Spaghetti Spoon

It’s a small thing, but this spoon makes it much easier to toss your spaghetti and coat it with the sauce. It’s also a lot easier to get it out of the pot and into a bowl for serving. And because it’s OXO, it’s comfortable to hold too.

Microplane Zester

This is one of my favorite tools. It’s just the thing for zesting lemons (and getting only the zest without the bitter pith). Hard cheese can be tough to grate with a box grater, but this produces perfect little curls that practically melt into your pasta. It’s also ideal for grating nutmeg, ginger, or even garlic. Since it’s long and thin, you can just perch it right on top of the bowl while you grate. Note that it’s sharp, so be careful!

More Recipes for One Person with Spinach or Spaghetti

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Balsamic Dressing and Feta Cheese

Spinach and Feta Cheese Omelette

Spicy Sesame Noodles Recipe for One Person

Single Serving Recipe for Singapore Noodles with Chicken

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *