clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Fork twirling spaghetti in a shallow white bowl.

Simple Lemon Pasta with Parmesan and Pea Shoots

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.7 from 6 reviews
  • Author: Jessie
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Category: Pasta
  • Cuisine: Italian-American


A simple weeknight lemon pasta recipe with pea shoots and an easy lemon sauce.


  • 2 heaping cups fresh pea shoots or pea tendrils
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup good-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish (see recipe notes)
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 lb. spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup pasta water (reserved from when you cook the spaghetti)
  • Kosher salt, to taste


  1. If your pea shoots are particularly long, chop them into halves or thirds so they're a bit easier to manage. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, grated parmesan cheese, and a generous amount of fresh ground pepper. (I like to do this while I'm waiting for the pasta water to boil!)
  3. Cook spaghetti in very salty water until al dente.
  4. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water (I just ladle some of the hot water out of the pot and into a measuring cup).
  5. Drain spaghetti and immediately add it to the mixing bowl with the lemon-olive oil mixture. Add reserved pasta water and toss to combine. The heat from the pasta will warm the sauce and melt the parmesan cheese.
  6. Add pea shoots to pasta and toss until parmesan has melted into a smooth sauce and pea shoots have softened slightly.
  7. Taste pasta and add a pinch of kosher salt to taste.
  8. Top pasta with additional parmesan cheese for garnish and serve immediately.


Strict vegetarians should use a vegetarian parmesan cheese here (one made without rennet).

Don't use pre-shredded cheese in this recipe!!! Most store-bought shredded parmesan is treated with preservatives that prevent it from melting smoothly, and you'll end up with a clumpy mess instead of a smooth sauce. For best results, buy a block of parmesano reggiano cheese (AKA "real" parmesan cheese) and grate it yourself with a microplane or the small side of a box grater.

Use a good quality olive oil in this recipe - because there are so few ingredients, the quality here really makes a difference!

SALT YOUR PASTA WATER! It makes all the difference.

Use PLENTY of fresh ground black pepper in this recipe, and don't be afraid to add an extra pinch of kosher salt to bring out the flavors. When you're working with so few ingredients, proper seasoning is everything - so don't forget to taste your pasta before you serve it and add salt and pepper as necessary!

Use whatever you have on hand for this recipe! Add peas, asparagus, broccoli, or other veggies to the pasta for a fun twist, mix in some fresh garden herbs, or serve with grilled chicken, salmon, or shrimp for a heartier meal.

For a vegan version of this recipe, use vegan pasta and eliminate the parmesan cheese.