The first time I made spaghetti with a lemon sauce we were thrilled with the flavors. I used leftover chicken, some black olives and shaved Parmesan. It was a blending of delightful flavors that we decided we wanted to add to our pasta rotation. Four years later, shame on us! We haven’t had it once! I did however have plenty of ham and wanted to simply substitute it for the chicken. We’d have a lemony, ham pasta dish.
I started the pasta cooking in boiling, salted water. When it was cooked al dente I drained it, reserving a few cups of pasta water for later if necessary.
In a large skillet I added a drizzle of olive oil and when the pan was heated I added the minced garlic. I sautéed it for a minute or two, just enough to turn it lightly golden brown. Beware of browning too much or it will turn bitter.
I added the pepper flakes and white wine and let it simmer for several minute to cook off some of the alcohol. Next I added the lemon juice, some chicken stock and more chicken stock as I didn’t have any pan juices from the roasted ham.
I let the sauce come to a boil and simmer for several minutes, until it was reduced down by about a third. I taste tested for salt and pepper, adding to my taste.
The ham and black olives went into the skillet next, cooking in the sauce for several minutes to heat through.
I was finally ready for my pasta. I stirred it into the juices, letting the pasta absorb the lovely lemon and garlic flavor. When the pasta seemed dry I added a little reserve pasta water at a time until the texture was just right.
I served the pasta for dinner sprinkled with finely diced green onions and plenty of grated Parmesan.
Verdict: it was just as ridiculously delicious as we remembered, with the subbed ham a nice touch. It was more flavorful than the chicken had been with a hint of smoky flavor. Again, we said we needed to put this dish into our rotation. Having frozen portions of diced ham, it could be a quick meal.
Lemon Pasta with Ham and Black Olives
A delicious pasta tossed with a lemon and garlic sauce, ham and black olives.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced (I used minced from a jar)
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional but please use, it is just a tiny touch of heat)
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2/3 cups chicken stock
- 2 to 3 tablespoons defatted pan juices from roasting chicken (or more chicken stock)
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- 12 or 16 ounce box spaghetti; cooked according to box directions (I used angel hair- it’s thinner and cooks faster so beware)
- 1 can whole black olives (pitted of course)
- 1 1/2 cups ham; Julienne (or dice, whatever you prefer)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon parsley; minced
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese for garnish
Cook the pasta in salted water according to box directions for al dente. Drain, reserving a cup or so of the pasta water.
In a nonstick skillet over medium heat add a large drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Add the garlic and let it gently cook until it just begins to turn golden, a minute or two. Add the red pepper flakes, stir then add the white wine and let the alcohol burn off.
Add the lemon juice, stock and pan juices or more stock. Bring them to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the liquid reduce by a third. Taste test for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.
Add the ham and black olives and let it heat through for a few minutes.
Add the drained pasta to the skillet along with the lemon zest. Taste test for seasonings again. Add pasta water in small amounts as the sauce is absorbed by the pasta. We want it wet enough to have a sauce.
Toss to combine, add the parsley, toss again.
Serve with lots of grated or shredded Parmesan.