Spaghetti with Meyer Lemon Zest and Crunchy Sea Salt

When Brian and I flew home from our holiday visit to my mom and stepdad’s place in Windsor, California, we were loaded down with plenty of the usual Christmastime loot—sweaters, books, socks, and in my case, a food scale, spices, and a scary-sharp Japanese chef’s knife. We also lugged a sizable bag of lemons. Now, especially after Christmas, suitcase space is a valuable real estate, of which not just any citrus fruit is worthy. But these weren’t just lemons—these were Meyer lemons, which in New York are available for $7 per pound at overpriced food emporiums, but in Sonoma County grow ubiquitously and plentifully (or at least did, until last month’s freeze) in backyards and along roadsides. So when my Manhattanite stepsister and I asked my mom if we could snag some Meyer lemons from her yard, she unloaded bags of fruit on us.

As The New York Times pointed out last week, sunny lemons are the perfect foil for cold, gray winter. (Just for the record, I did have my recipe written and post planned before the Times article came out.) Meyer lemons are sweeter than their more common supermarket cousins, and they possess a divinely fragrant zest.

When Brian and I returned to Queens with our bounty, we had lots of Meyer lemon salad dressings and less inspired fare, but our favorite creation by far was this simple spaghetti with butter, zest, shallots, parmesan cheese, and coarse sea salt. The creamy butter marries beautifully with the aromatic Meyer lemon, and the sea salt, sprinkled over individual servings, adds a nice textural contrast.


1 pound thin spaghetti
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 finely chopped shallots
Zest of 2 Meyer lemons
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Fleur de Sel or another coarse sea salt

Melt butter in a large skillet. Saute shallots until soft (do not burn the butter). Meanwhile, boil the pasta. Stir zest into the butter, add cooked pasta, cheese, parsley, pepper, and toss together. Sprinkle each serving with sea salt to taste.

Even though lemon zest isn’t an herb, it does have the aromatic qualities of one, so I’ve decided to send this post to Kalyn’s Kitchen for Weekend Herb Blogging. Be sure to check Kalyn’s blog next week for the roundup!