Creamy lemon butter sauce spaghetti with figs is the kind of comfort food both vegetarians and meat-eaters will appreciate. The lemon cream sauce for pasta is easy and the figs add just the right amount of sweetness. Here’s how to make it.
Before You Make the Creamy Lemon Butter Sauce
Make the pasta first. You may have heard that salting your water like the sea is the go-to move for cooking pasta. Use 1 tablespoon of salt, stirred into the water. Cook the pasta until al dente. That pasta water is liquid gold and contains starch from the pasta, perfect for thickening a sauce. Reserve a portion of the pasta water as you drain the pasta.
Tips for Making Lemon Cream Sauce for Pasta
The idea here is to saute aromatics in fat until soft and then introduce the pasta and liquids before finally adding in the citrus. To get a bit more specific, we combine olive oil and butter for their flavor and then add in shallots. Pasta water and cream get added to the pot along with the figs, which simmer for a few minutes as the figs plump up in the liquid. Either Golden Figs or Mission Figs would be delicious—each offering a different kind of flavor and sweetness. At this point, the pot is taken off-heat so the pasta can be mixed in. Then, the oil, butter, citrus, cheese, and pepper are added in.
This next part is crucial: let the dish rest briefly before serving so the flavors develop and the sauce thickens. Cover the pasta and set it aside for 2 minutes. Toss the pasta and adjust, if necessary, the consistency with the remaining pasta water if the sauce is too thick. At this point season to taste, adding in the basil. Serve the pasta with the creamy lemon butter sauce, drizzling on extra olive oil and sprinkling on Parmesan cheese.
Creamy Lemon Butter Sauce Spaghetti with Figs
- Table salt
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium shallot minced (about 3 tablespoons)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs stemmed and chopped into ¼-inch pieces (6 ounces)
- 2 teaspoons finely grated zest and 1/4 cup juice from 3 lemons
- 1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese about 1/2 cup, plus more for serving
- Ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons shredded fresh basil leaves
- Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta to boiling water; cook, stirring frequently, until al dente. Reserve 1¾ cups cooking water, drain pasta into colander, and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in the now-empty Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add shallot and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook until shallot is softened, about 2 minutes. Whisk 1 1/2 cups of reserved pasta cooking water and cream into pot; add figs and stir to combine; bring to simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat, return pasta, and stir until coated. Stir in the remaining tablespoon of oil and butter, along with lemon zest, lemon juice, cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
- Cover and let pasta stand 2 minutes, tossing frequently and adjusting consistency with remaining 1/4 cup reserved pasta water if necessary. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, drizzling individual portions with oil and sprinkling with cheese.