This delicious recipe features all the classic ingredients that you would expect in a Basil Pasta - lots of fresh basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, butter, garlic, and fresh lemon. It's an easy and quick recipe that requires only 7 ingredients and 30 minutes of your time! This meatless pasta dish is perfect in the Summer or whenever you have an abundance of fresh basil. The recipe uses basic everyday ingredients and is perfect for family meals.
Refreshing, meatless pasta
This recipe has no cream, no heavy cream, no half-and-half. Yet, this basil pasta is packed with flavor thanks to several simple yet flavorful ingredients.
- First, thinly sliced lemon is cooked with butter and a lot of garlic to release the delicious lemon juice infused with pan-roasted garlic. Now, you have a delicious lemon garlic butter sauce!
- Then, cooked bow-tie pasta, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, cracked black pepper, and chopped fresh basil are all added in and combined with lemon garlic butter sauce.
- The final touches include even more chopped fresh basil (did I say this pasta had lots of basil?!) and toasted pine nuts.
If you enjoy pasta recipes that use fresh basil, you will love this chicken basil pesto pasta with roasted tomatoes and pine nuts and chicken basil pesto pasta with mushrooms.
Simple and easy to make
- This basil pasta features only 7 ingredients (not counting salt and pepper).
- The recipe uses basic everyday ingredients and is perfect for family meals.
- There is no complicated cream sauce involved. Just butter, lots of garlic, fresh lemon juice from lemon slices, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese - that's what coats the pasta and brings so much flavor to this dish. Add in a lot of fresh basil and toasted pine nuts, and you have a delicious simple pasta.
- It looks beautiful and sophisticated yet takes only 30 minutes of your time!
- Salted butter. Since there is no other sauce involved in this basil pasta, go generous with the butter. The recipe calls for 6 tablespoons, and you might want to use a little bit more extra if you like. Use salted, high-quality butter such as Kerrygold brand (Irish butter) - you will taste the butter quality in this recipe!
- Garlic. Go bold with garlic. It's so good for you! I used 6 cloves of it and could've used even more. Cook the garlic in butter just until garlic browns but not burns.
- Lemon. I prefer to use Meyer lemon. It's less acidic with still a very lemony flavor. Use only ½ of the lemon and slice it very thinly before adding to the skillet.
- Pasta. To make it easy for the butter and the grated Parmesan cheese to coat the pasta, use short pasta, such as farfalle (bow-tie pasta). You can also use fusilli or penne.
- Parmesan cheese. Use a block of cheese and grate it yourself right before adding it to the pasta. The fresher the cheese, the better the pasta will taste!
- Pine nuts. Lightly toast the pine nuts in the preheated oven at 350 F for only 5 minutes. Watch the oven carefully - the nuts can burn quickly. Toasted pine nuts acquire a beautiful color, even stronger nutty flavor, and a subtle soft crunch. They are delicious over the basil pasta!
- Cracked black pepper. Use only freshly cracked black pepper that you grind yourself from the peppercorns. You can use any color of peppercorns: black, white, green, etc. Do not use regular pepper, it won't taste the same. Only use peppercorns that you grind yourself into cracked black pepper.
How to make basil pasta
Add butter, thinly sliced lemon (only half of a lemon), and minced fresh garlic to a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.
Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring a couple of times, until lemon slices brown and release juices and minced garlic is browned but not burned.
Remove from heat and add 2 more tablespoons of butter until it melts.
Remove lemon slices from the skillet. Add hot, drained, and cooked pasta and stir everything well.
Add 2 more tablespoons of butter (sliced).
Add freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Stir the cheese with pasta on low-medium heat for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat. Season with salt, if desired. Add half of the fresh chopped basil to hot pasta.
When ready to serve, top the pasta with the remaining half of fresh chopped basil, toasted pine nuts, and cracked black pepper.
What to serve with basil pasta
- Garlic bread or olive bread warmed in the oven and topped with butter!
- A side salad, such as this arugula salad with pine nuts or a fresh tomato, cucumber, and avocado salad with mozzarella and basil pesto.
Other refreshing recipes
If you're looking for more recipes where basil stars as the key ingredient, take a look at these:
- Chicken Ravioli Skillet with Basil Pesto and Veggies (Asparagus and Tomatoes)
- Tomato Cucumber Avocado Salad with Basil Pesto
- Basil Pesto Tomato Mozzarella Chicken Bake
Basil Pasta with Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce
- 6 tablespoons salted butter divided
- 5 cloves garlic fresh, minced
- ½ lemon (preferably Meyer lemon) thinly sliced
- 8 oz pasta (I used farfalle or bow-tie pasta)
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 2 oz fresh basil and add more to taste (up to 4 oz)
- ½ cup pine nuts lightly toasted
- salt and pepper to taste (use black cracked pepper)
- Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons butter, thinly sliced lemon, and minced fresh garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring a couple of times, until lemon slices brown and release juices and minced garlic is browned but not burned. Remove from heat and add 2 more tablespoons of butter. Stir until it melts. Remove lemon slices from the skillet.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add pasta and cook al dente according to package instructions. Drain pasta.
- Add hot, drained, and cooked pasta to the cast-iron skillet with butter and garlic. Stir everything well.
- Add 2 more tablespoons of butter and grated Parmesan cheese. Stir on low-medium heat for a couple of minutes to spread out the cheese among the pasta and melt it a bit. Remove from heat. Taste and season with salt.
- Add half of the fresh chopped basil to hot pasta and mix everything well.
- When ready to serve, top with the remaining half of fresh chopped basil, toasted pine nuts, and cracked black pepper.
- Lemon. I prefer to use Meyer lemon. It's less acidic than regular lemons. Use only ½ of the lemon and slice it very thinly.
- Pine nuts. Lightly toast the pine nuts in the preheated oven at 350 F for only 5 minutes. Watch the oven carefully - the nuts can burn quickly.
- Cracked black pepper. Use only freshly cracked black pepper that you grind yourself from the peppercorns. You can use any color of peppercorns: black, white, green, etc. Do not use regular pepper, it won't taste the same.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Love this! It’s a new favorite in our home.
Jessica, that makes me happy! ❤️
Can you substitute olive oil in place of the butter?
Sara, I think high-quality extra virgin olive oil would be REALLY GOOD instead of butter! I would use a much smaller amount of olive oil instead of what is indicated for the butter in this recipe. Because extra virgin olive oil can have such a strong flavor (which I love) that can overpower other flavors.
can't do basil.......is there a different green you would recommend?
Tough to say. I would say go with arugula instead of basil here. I know arugula is not a herb but it will go well here.
I haven’t made this recipe yet but it is very similar to a recipe I have used for years and love so much! I add bay scallops…they are sweet and go so well with pine nuts and basil. I am traveling right now but can’t wait to get home to try your version!
Jennifer, I love the idea of adding scallops to this pasta!
What does 4oz basil come out to roughly in cups? Thanks.
I would say about 3 cups. I would go just with what your own taste dictates. Start with 2 oz, and then add more, if needed. I will actually update the recipe with that.
Thank you! 🙂
Interested to know if this would serve well as a cold salad? Thanks!
Rachael, because there is butter involved, I would serve this dish either warm or hot (but not cold).
I made this for dinner tonight and added some chicken. My husband loved it and so did I. I think this is a perfect summer time dish. I was hoping for leftovers but that didn't happen.
Thank You for such a great recipe.Mary
Mary, thank you for taking the time to write such a positive comment! 🙂
Do you serve this cold or hot?
You can serve this hot, warm, or at room temperature.
This was my lunch the other day, I added canned sardines - it was delicious! Didn't use pine nuts - too expensive.
I am glad you gave this recipe a try and enjoyed it! Canned sardines can be such a quick and delicious addition of protein to any pasta!
Julia, this recipe was a big hit at a large gathering i just had. Everybody had 2nds & 3rds, Lol!! I made 3lbs & only had about a half pound left! I served it with grilled pork chops & salad. Wow,wow,wow! Loved the pine nuts in it. I also made mine with small penne pasta.
Thank you for posting it! I need to look up your other recipes now!
Ohhhhh sooo good and very easy. Realized at the last minute that my parmesan cheese was unusable so I substituted feta! I was very leery but it was delicious ....better than I could've imagined. Thank you for sharing your recipe.
Molly, thank you so much for such an enthusiastic and positive comment - I really appreciate it! 🙂
Inas, I am so flattered by your comment! I know a lot of people might like the recipe but don't have the time to comment, but when I see glowing reviews like yours - they really make my day! Thank you for taking the time to share the story behind making this recipe. 🙂
Made this the other day and served it with rotisserie chicken. Simple to make and goes well with chicken.