Lemon Arugula Pasta Recipe

Lemon Arugula Pasta Recipe

This lemon arugula pasta recipe with za’atar is a perfect dish to make for a hot summer night. I like to make it in the morning before the heat has set in for the day. My future self ALWAYS thanks my past self for having the forethought to do so!

Use Za’atar Spice Blend in Pasta Dishes

I add a little twist to this pasta dish by throwing in some za-atar spice blend. Za’atar contains sumac, which has a tart and tangy flavor and adds a refreshing kick. In addition, za’atar contains sesame seeds, oregano, and salt which all complement pasta perfectly.

My favorite part of this lemon arugula pasta recipe is infusing the lemon flavor directly into the olive oil. It takes about five minutes, and the lemon-y yummy-ness it adds to the dish is out of this world. Of course you’re absolutely welcome to juice the lemon and add it at the end too, just be sure to finish off with a generous helping of Parmesan cheese.

pasta recipe

Sourcing Quality Pasta

When I do eat pasta, I seek out high-quality small batch handmade pasta from producers such as Semolina Artisanal Pasta. It DOES make a difference in flavor, as the pasta from Leah at Semolina Artisanal Pasta actually HAS flavor–no cardboard here, and I love to support a L.A.-based woman-owned business. Her pasta is available at her website or in stores like Whole Foods, Lazy Acres, and Mother’s Market.

One-Dish Pasta Recipe

I love one-dish dinners because prep and clean-up is so much easier. The salad is included right there in the dish, and the peppery-ness of the arugula is perfectly tempered by plain pasta and vibrant lemon-garlic oil. Even though this pasta recipe is certainly a meal all on it’s own, try serving alongside a carrot salad or flat iron steak.

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Lemon Arugula Pasta Recipe

Easy peasy pasta dish perfect for hot summer nights.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: pasta recipe
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 433kcal


  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound pasta (I prefer a penne, macaroni, or shell pasta for this recipe)
  • 2 cups baby arugula leaves
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon Za-atar Spice Blend
  • 3 1/2 oz Parmesan cheese


Lemon-Garlic Oil

  • Using a peeler, peel off thin strips of skin from the lemon. Apply gentle pressure, trying your best to get mostly the yellow skin, and less of the white pith underneath, which has a more bitter flavor. Peel garlic cloves.
  • Put 1/4 cup olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Warm for about 1 minute. Put the lemon peel strips and peeled garlic cloves into the warm oil, it should bubble gently when you add them. If not, wait a minute for the oil to get warmer. Take the pan off the heat and set aside once the lemon peel and garlic is added. Once the oil cools, strain and set aside.


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a couple generous pinches of salt. Add pasta when it comes to a boil and cook until desired done-ness. Drain.
  • In a large bowl, combine 2 Tablespoons of lemon-garlic oil, arugula leaves, and minced capers. Add drained pasta immediately after cooking and toss. Add Za-atar Spice Blend if using. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. If you wish, you may also add the juice from the lemon. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.
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