Lemon-Cream Pasta Toss

There’s nothing quite as comforting as a big bowl of cream-laced pasta. When television chef and cookbook author Nigella Lawson added fresh lemon juice and rind to the classic creamy Alfredo sauce, I was definitely hooked.

One Sunday evening I found myself with leftover grilled chicken, so I tinkered with Lawson’s recipe to come up with a heartier pasta toss. The sliced chicken, along with some slivered sundried tomatoes and fresh basil really took the lemon-cream pasta over the top.

The recipe has become a regular at my house, and since I don’t always have leftover chicken on hand, I’ve added the step of sautéing chicken tenderloin fillets in butter before while I boil the pasta. I’ve also replaced the usual Parmesan with shredded Asiago, which is now available in most supermarket deli departments. The resulting dish takes me back to the days when sundried tomatoes were only found in restaurants, and pasta with pesto sauce was becoming chic.

  • 1 pound linguine
  • 1 tablespoon butter, plus ¼ cup, divided
  • 1 pound chicken tenderloin fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Zest from 1 lemon and Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup lemon juice)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup shredded Asiago or Parmesan cheese, plus additional cheese for garnish
  • 1/2 cup slivered sundried tomatoes, rehydrated according to package directions
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, sliced into thin slivers
Bring a large pot of water and about a teaspoon of salt to a boil. Add linguine and cook according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid, then drain linguine.

While linguine cooks, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until chicken is cooked through, and no pink remains in the center. Add lemon juice to the chicken and simmer 1 minute, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Combine egg yolks, cream, shredded cheese, and lemon zest in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Drain pasta and return to the pot. Add the 1/4 cup of butter, stirring until all noodles are coated. Stir in chicken and lemon juice, cream mixture, sundried tomatoes and slivered basil. Add reserved pasta water, a little at a time, until the sauce is creamy. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, if necessary. Pass additional shredded Asiago or Parmesan at the table.

Makes 6 servings.