Where there’s lemon, you’ll find me.
Do you like lemon as a flavor?
For me, it’s a must in my daily world. Whether it’s a wedge squeezed over a salad, or a pasta dish like this one, I need my daily hit of citrus and acid.
There’s something about lemon that just brightens up everything. I love the tang, how it puckers your lips, and how it practically goes with everything. Oh, and that applies to both sweet and savory things.
This is the dinner that you’ll want to snag if you are craving that bright, citrusy flavor and want a hearty pasta dish that you can put on the table in just 30 minutes.
I swear, when I say this is a simple recipe, I really mean it. There aren’t too many ingredients, and most of them I’m guessing you already have in your house at this very moment.
The chicken is grilled, so you get a little bit of smoky flavor, but you don’t have to worry about going through the steps of marinating it.
Next, you make spaghetti, which is obviously pretty darn easy and something you’ve probably done many times before.
The real magic comes into play with the sauce.
You start by cooking up some garlic and herbs (you can use either dried or fresh here, which is a fantastic option to have when you don’t want to go to the store). Then you add some lemon juice and let that simmer so the flavors can meld together on the stove.
The sauce goes into a bowl with the cooked spaghetti and grilled chicken that’s been cut into strips. Give it all a toss with some fresh lemon zest, and you’re ready to eat.
Serve it in big bowls, and don’t forget the grated parmesan on top for a little cheesy touch.
The flavor of the lemon really pops, without being too overwhelming and blowing out the rest of the flavors in the dish.
My husband actually tends to hate anything with a strong lemon flavor (crazy, I know). However, this dish is one that he actually loves.
The first time I made it, he ate the whole bowlful and ended up wanting seconds… So that’s saying something about just how tasty and natural the lemon flavor in this dish is!
You can definitely taste the lemon, but the way it melds with the chicken, pasta, and herbs makes it an uplifting experience for your palate.
I highly recommend using fresh fruit juice for this recipe. I’ve had a lot of experience buying lemon juice in a bottle, and while it can come in handy for certain recipes, this is not one of them.
You want that fresh lemon flavor, and it really won’t overpower the herbs and chicken in the dish. It keeps the dish nice and light, and you will feel like you could eat it any night of the week.
Plus, the leftovers are just as tasty the next day when you reheat them. That’s why I always squirrel some away, so my husband won’t eat it all in one sitting – sometimes it’s important to make sure you have some left over for the cook to enjoy again the next day, after all.Print
Grilled poultry with a light and bright sauce makes this lemony pasta with chicken a surefire win for dinner. It’s a simple but elegant 30-minute meal.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (approx. 2–2.5 lbs.)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 16 ounces spaghetti
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh basil, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan, for serving
- Preheat grill or grill pan.
- Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper on all sides. Grill over medium-high heat until no longer pink inside, about 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove from grill and cover with aluminum foil. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions.
- While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, parsley, and basil to the pan and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Pour lemon juice into skillet, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 3 minutes.
- Pour lemon and oil mixture into a large serving bowl. Drain the pasta, then add it to the serving bowl. Toss well, until pasta is coated.
- Slice chicken into strips, add to the bowl, and toss again. Sprinkle with lemon zest. Serve immediately, with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: Chicken
- Method: Grilling, Stovetop
- Cuisine: Pasta
Keywords: grilled chicken, lemon, pasta
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Mince Garlic, Juice and Zest Lemon, And Measure Remaining Ingredients
Peel and mince 2 cloves of garlic.
Zest enough lemon until you have ½ teaspoon total.
Juice enough lemons until you have ½ cup of fresh juice. I used 4 medium-sized fruits to get this amount. Be sure to remove and discard any seeds.
Measure out all of the remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list.
If you are using fresh herbs, remove the stems and chop the leaves finely.
Preheat your grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.
Step 2 – Grill Chicken
Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
Place it on the grill and cook until it’s well done and no longer pink inside. This will take about 4 to 5 minute per side.
Remove the chicken from the grill and place it on a cutting board or platter, covered with aluminum foil. Set aside.
Step 3 – Cook Pasta
While the chicken is grilling, cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.
Step 4 – Make Sauce
While the pasta is cooking, you can make the sauce. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a small skillet.
Once it’s hot, add the garlic, parsley, and basil. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in the lemon juice and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 3 minutes.
Pour the sauce into a large serving bowl.
Step 5 – Finish Dish
Drain the pasta in a colander. Add it to the serving bowl, and toss it with the sauce until the pasta is coated well.
After allowing the grilled poultry to rest for at least 10 minutes, slice it into strips. Add these to the bowl just before serving and toss to combine.
Sprinkle the lemon zest on top. Serve immediately, garnished with grated parmesan cheese.
Don’t Forget to Get in Your Vegetables
Do you happen to have some leftover vegetables from a previous meal sitting in your refrigerator? This is a great time to use them.
You can use chopped up asparagus, brussels sprouts, peppers, and even sauteed kale or spinach.
Really, it’s all about adding some freshness to the dish with whatever seasonal, nutritious vegetables you like, and this is a great way to use up some leftovers. Simply reheat and mix into the pasta when you are tossing it with the grilled chicken.
For more pasta dishes to try this week, take a look at these Foodal favorites next:
- Pasta with Pumpkin Sage Cream Sauce
- Linguine with Clam Sauce
- Rigatoni with Asparagus and Balsamic Reduction
Do you love the flavor of citrus in sweet or savory dishes? Tell us in the comments below. And once you try the recipe, be sure to rate it as well!
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on May 22, 2011. Last updated April 25, 2020.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Meghan Yager
Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.