RECIPE: Lighter Lemon Spring Pasta

When spring comes around I want to put lemon in EVERYTHING! And this pasta dish is the ticket for that perfect blend of lightness and freshness with a little bit of decadence. It has a cream sauce that is not as naughty using skim milk and aged Parmesan. We added Fontina (on hubby's insistence) which made it less healthy. But you can skip it and it is still just as delicious. And it has a burst of lemon and spice to tickle your palette. Some people find lemon in pasta strange, but give it a try. It adds a fun twist.

Lighter Lemon Spring Pasta


16 oz. dried pasta
1 large head of broccoli, cut into small florets
5 oz. package baby spinach, any thicker stems removed and roughly chopped
3 tsp. olive oil
2 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp. plain flour
16 fl oz skimmed milk
1/2 tsp. chicken bouillon powder
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 lemon, finely grated zest only
4½ oz Parmesan, finely grated
1 1/2 cup shredded Fontina (optional, it does add calories)
salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 350˚.

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water for about 8 minutes (check package for overall cooking time and adapt accordingly). Add the broccoli and cook for another 3 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the spinach and leave to stand with the lid on for a minute. Drain well and set aside

Heat the oil in a heavy-based sauce pan. Add the garlic and soften for 2 minutes, then add the red pepper flakes. Add the flour and cook, stirring all the time, for 1-2 minutes. Slowly pour in the milk, add the bay leaves, chicken bouillon and season with salt and pepper. Continue simmering for 2-3 minutes, until thickened, whisking constantly. Remove the bay leaves.

Stir in the mustard, lemon zest and three quarters of the Parmesan, then season well.

Toss the pasta and broccoli with the sauce, then toss into a shallow baking dish that's been sprayed with non stick cooking spray. Pour any extra sauce over and mix well. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese, as well as Fontina if you are using it and cover with foil with a steam vent hole. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Take off foil and bake until lightly golden and bubbly on top, another 10 minutes or so.

Serve hot with extra Parmesan cheese.



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