This light and brightly flavored lemon tomato pasta is a simple dish that uses fresh ingredients and is ready in under 30 minutes.
If a meatless meal is on the menu, look no further than this zesty recipe! Even as a light lunch, it tastes just as good hot as it does chilled. Delicious as the recipe is written or dress it up with protein additions like chicken or shrimp. Or, keep it meatless and add in chopped spinach, cherry tomatoes, or kalamata olives! Lemon tomato pasta is such a versatile dish that is easy to alter every time it’s made!
A Quick Meatless Meal
- Pasta dishes are often made with heavy tomato-based sauces, but this sauce is light and the flavors are bright and zesty.
- Easily double the recipe and enjoy leftovers for light dinners and easy lunches all week long. (See “Tips for Perfect Pasta” section, below.)
- Lemon tomato pasta makes a delicious dish as it is, but can be enhanced with meat, veggies, cheeses, plus a variety of toppings.
- Serve it alone or as a side with a chicken, fish, or shrimp entree.
Ingredients and Variations
SAUCE: A simple can of tomatoes (with the juices!) and a little lemon juice cooked with butter create the base for this simple sauce. Add extra seasonings like crushed garlic or some homemade Italian seasoning, if you like.
PASTA: In keeping with the elegant look that is characteristic of a red sauce, linguine, spaghetti or angel hair (AKA capellini) pastas are preferred. Small pastas like ditalini, small macaroni shells, or even orzo also work well and are delicious.
CHEESE: Shredded parmesan cheese is tangy and complements the lemon juice perfectly. Other options are crumbled feta or blue cheese.
HERBS: This is the time for fresh instead of dried parsley. It makes the dish look and taste extra fresh. Fresh basil and oregano are other good choices to use in place of parsley. Try to avoid overwhelming the recipe with fresh herb combinations if possible.
ADD-INS: Fresh cherry tomatoes, sliced black olives, spinach, peas, oven-roasted asparagus, artichoke hearts, or grilled zucchini add new elements of flavor to lemon tomato pasta without weighing it down.
How to Make Lemon Tomato Pasta
Just follow these easy steps:
- Melt butter in a skillet, stir in tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients.
- Cook pasta, drain, add to the tomato lemon sauce and toss lightly.
- Sprinkle with parsley and cheese and serve.
Keep sides fresh and rustic! Try serving with a slice of homemade no-knead bread, and a simple cucumber dill salad or this unique fennel salad.
Tips for Perfect Pasta
- Make a creamy sauce by adding a small amount of heavy cream, but avoid lighter dairy products because they will curdle against the lemon juice. Alternately, use a little pasta water to thicken the sauce.
- Double the recipe by using ½ cup of butter, 29 ounces tomatoes (drained and chopped), and a large can of diced tomatoes, 4 teaspoons of lemon zest, ¼ cup of lemon juice, ¼ cup of parsley (plus more for garnish), 1 teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of pepper, 1 pound of pasta and ½ cup of parmesan cheese. Be sure to use a larger skillet when doubling this recipe.
- Keep leftover tomato lemon pasta in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Loosen it up with a dash of olive oil and reheat in the microwave or enjoy chilled.
- Since pasta doesn’t thaw well, it’s best to simply make a fresh batch!
Other Easy Pasta Recipes To Try!
- Cream Cheese Pasta Bake – so easy in the oven!
- Cheesy One Pot Pasta – a whole meal in one pot
- No Cook Tomato Sauce With Pasta – another fresh and light dish
- Parmesan Asparagus Pasta – with zesty lemon flavor
Simple Lemon Tomato Pasta
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 14.5 ounces whole tomatoes drained and chopped, 1 small can (a little more or less works), diced works
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or other fresh herb, plus more for garnish
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice about 1-2 lemons
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest about 1-2 lemons
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ pound spaghetti or linguine, or your favorite pasta
- ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese or grated, optional for garnish
- Bring salted water to a boil (to cook pasta).
- Meanwhile, in a small skillet on low heat, melt butter until creamy. Stir in tomatoes and saute over low heat. Stir in parsley, lemon juice, zest, salt, and pepper.
- Meanwhile, cook linguine until al dente, firm to the bite, per package directions. Drain.
- Add pasta to the sauce and toss.
- Sprinkle with parsley and cheese to serve.
½ cup butter
28 ounces whole tomatoes, drained and chopped, 1 large can (a little more or less works)
4 teaspoons lemon zest (about 2-4 lemons)
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about 2-4 lemons)
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, or other fresh herb, plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound spaghetti, or linguine, or your favorite pasta
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese, or grated, optional for garnish
Use a large skillet when doubling.
Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.
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Love this. I like the idea of saving the pasta water and adding it to thicken the sauce to keep it fat free and saucy!
This is one of my favorite simple dishes. I’m so glad you love it!