Pasta al Limone with Shrimp
Pasta al limone with shrimp is the perfect, elegant pasta recipe that you need this summer. It’s somehow both light and decadent, bursting with fresh lemon and shallot flavor in a creamy sauce. Once you add the tender shrimp, it’s truly incredible.
Pasta al limone is an easy and impressive one-pan recipe to pull out anytime you feel like pasta. It’s a great recipe for entertaining because it’ll make you look like the hostess with the mostest when in reality it only takes about 20 minutes.
A Fresh Lemon-y Pasta for Summer
If you know me, you know I love a good pasta recipe. I’ve got a whole section on my website dedicated to pasta recipes here!
There’s nothing quite like sitting down with a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine. The summer heat can make a lot of pasta dishes feel too heavy, but not pasta al limone!
While there’s cream in the sauce, it’s lightened with pasta water and lots of fresh lemon zest and juice. It has a rich, yet fresh flavor making it perfect for any time of year.
Shrimp is the perfect natural pairing, but any protein will work–grilled chicken is another favorite!
What is Pasta al Limone?
A classic Italian recipe, pasta al limone is a simple pasta dish consisting of a long noodle-shaped pasta (usually spaghetti), lemon (zest and juice), butter or olive oil, Parmesan, salt, and a generous amount of black pepper.
The origin of pasta al limone is disputed, but it is especially popular in southern Italy and Sicily, regions that are known for their lemon crop.
This recipe for pasta al limone isn’t strictly authentic because we’re really jazzing things up with shallots, crisp white wine, and a bit of mascarpone. We’re also using bucatini for this pasta al limone because it’s the absolute best at holding sauce. The tender shrimp pairs perfectly with the fresh lemon.
This will be a pasta recipe that you turn to over and over again!
How to Make Pasta al Limone with Shrimp
You don’t need fancy tools or equipment to make this pasta recipe, but you will benefit from using a high-quality nonstick pan. This keeps the cheesy sauce from sticking and makes for easy clean up.
- Calphalon Nonstick Hard Anodized 12 inch Skillet
- Calphalon Anti-Microbial Knife
- Cutting Board
- Lemon Zester
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Shrimp. The tender shrimp pairs so perfectly with pasta al limone. See below for other protein substitutions.
- Bucatini. Bucatini is my absolute favorite pasta! It holds sauce so well. But you could easily swap in spaghetti or even fettuccine, tagliatelle, or pappardelle.
- Lemons. You’ll need lots of fresh lemon zest and juice.
- Shallot. Shallot gives the perfect subtle onion flavor, but you can substitute any finely minced onion.
- Dry White Wine. Nothing sweet here–try Sauvignon blanc, Pinot gris, Chenin Blanc, etc.
- Heavy Cream. This isn’t authentic, but it makes the sauce perfectly creamy.
- Mascarpone. You can skip mascarpone, but I love the light flavor it gives to pasta al limone.
- Pecorino. Fresh grated pecorino is a must! You can easily swap in parmesan if that’s what you have.
- Fresh cracked pepper. Pasta al limone benefits from LOTS of freshly cracked black pepper.
- Step one: Peel and devein your shrimp. You can ask your fishmonger to do this for you! Pat them dry and season with salt and pepper.
- Step two: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the bucatini. Cook until al dente.
- Step three: While the pasta cooks, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the shrimp in a single layer to the hot pan and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.
- Step four: Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and the minced shallots to the pan and saute for 1 minute. Then, add the white wine and bring to a simmer. Simmer until most of the wine has evaporated and then add the lemon zest. Cook for 1 minute more.
- Step five: Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, until thickened. Add the pasta water and simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Remove the pasta from the water with tongs (it’s okay if some water clings to the pasta), and add to the skillet. Add the butter, romano cheese, and mascarpone and toss the pasta well to coat.
- Step six: Let the pasta finish cooking in the sauce. Season to taste with salt, lemon juice, and a good smattering of freshly cracked pepper. Add the shrimp back to the pan to warm through.
- Step seven: Top the pasta with some chopped parsley and serve warm.
Using the Right Size Shrimp for Pasta al Limone
I’m sure you’ve gone to the grocery store plenty of times looking for shrimp and were bombarded with a million different types! Whenever you shop for shrimp, there are usually numbers attached like 21-25, 16-20, 10-12, etc.
These numbers refer to the size of the shrimp and how many you can expect per pound. The larger the number, the smaller the shrimp.
So what is the best sized shrimp to use for pasta al limone with shrimp? My favorite sizes for pasta al limone are the 10-15 size and the 16-20. The shrimp are large enough to feel filling and won’t overcook when you sear them. In my opinion, these are the perfect sizes of shrimp for pasta al limone. The shrimp stay plump and tender and are perfectly filling for a main course.
Customizing Pasta al Limone
This pasta is so perfect in its simplicity! Obviously, I’ve added shrimp to pasta al limone, but you can omit it too.
Proteins: Grilled or shredded chicken is wonderful here! You could also add clams, seared scallops, or even grilled salmon!
Herbs: Fresh herbs are a must here. Parsley is classic, but basil, tarragon, or chives would also be excellent. Whatever you do, just make sure you use fresh herbs vs dried.
Veggies: There’s nothing wrong with using up some veggies in this pasta al limone recipe! Red peppers, zucchini, and fresh peas would all be wonderful additions.
Storing, Freezing, and Re-Heating Pasta al Limone with Shrimp
- To Store. Place leftovers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm pasta in a large skillet on the stove over medium-low heat, adding a splash of water as needed to thin the sauce. Toss the noodles often and brighten them up with a squeeze of lemon.
- To Freeze. Store pasta in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
More Pasta Recipes to Try Now
The Best Pasta alla Vodka
Cacio e Pepe for Two
Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs
White Bolognese with Rigatoni
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Pasta al Limone with Shrimp
- 10 oz bucatini (or other long pasta)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 lbs raw shrimp (anywhere from 10-20 size), peeled and deveined
- 4 tablespoons salted butter, divided
- 2 small shallots, minced
- 2/3 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup pasta water
- 1/3 cup mascarpone
- 1 cup freshly grated pecorino romano
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- kosher salt
- freshly cracked pepper
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the bucatini. Cook until al dente. Be sure to reserve 1 cup of starchy pasta water.
- While the pasta cooks, heat 1 tablespoons of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet (about 12 inches) over medium heat. Add the shrimp in a single layer to the hot pan and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.
- Add 2 tablespoons of butter and the minced shallots to the pan and saute for one minute, until softened. Add the white wine and bring to a simmer. Simmer until most of the wine has evaporated and then add the lemon zest. Cook for 1 minute more.
- Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, until thickened. Add the pasta water and simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Remove the pasta from the water with tongs (it’s okay if some water clings to the pasta), and add to the skillet. Add the butter, cheese, and mascarpone and toss the pasta well to coat.
- Let the pasta finish cooking in the sauce and season to taste with salt, lemon juice, and a good smattering of freshly cracked pepper. Add the shrimp back to the pan to warm through.
- Top the pasta with some chopped parsley and serve warm.