Ina’s Best: Lemon Fusilli with Arugula

lemonpasta1 Inas Best: Lemon Fusilli with Arugula photo: we heart this

You may notice a pattern we heart this readers, that when I share a recipe I’m more of the reporter then the chef. Some meals I act as the sous chef, but it’s housemate Eric, that does the majority of the cooking. Since he’s an amazing, natural cook, I happily do the washing up, occasionally slip him a recipe idea and thank my lucky stars for this sweet deal.

Eric is a big fan of The Food Network, particularly Ina Garten and her show The Barefoot Contessa. I end up being the big winner, since I get to eat all of the meals Ina has inspired Eric to create. Our absolute favorite recipe, and the one that always knocks people out is her fresh and creamy Lemon Fusilli with Arugula.

I think the beauty of this dish is that it’s pasta. Everybody loves pasta, right? But it’s so much more then your average spaghetti dinner. It’s such a pretty dish with the pops of cherry red tomatoes and bright green Arugula. And the scent of this creamy, lemon dish drifting through the house will have people lining up at the table. Lemon Fusilli with Arugula just may become your go-to favorite for dinner parties, birthdays, Valentine’s Day, or when the boss (or your mother-in-law) is coming for dinner.

It’s a bit more labor intensive then your standard pasta meal, but well worth the effort. Add a fresh green salad, a crusty loaf of bread and a nice glass of wine and you’re good to go. I promise, you’ll get more then one request for this delicious dish every time you serve it. It’s up to you if you want to share Ina’s pasta masterpiece:

Lemon Fusilli with Arugula

• 1 tablespoon good olive oil
• 1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 cloves)
• 2 cups heavy cream
• 3 lemons
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 bunch broccoli
• 1 pound dried fusilli pasta
• 1/2 pound baby arugula (or 2 bunches of common arugula, leaves cut in thirds)
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan*
• 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved


Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the garlic, and cook for 60 seconds. Add the cream, the zest from 2 lemons**, the juice of 2 lemons, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until it starts to thicken.

Meanwhile, cut the broccoli in florets and discard the stem. Cook the florets in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain the broccoli and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the package, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta in a colander and place it back into the pot.

Immediately add the cream mixture and cook it over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until most of the sauce has been absorbed in the pasta. Pour the hot pasta into a large bowl, add the arugula, Parmesan, tomatoes, and cooked broccoli. Cut the last lemon in half lengthwise, slice it 1/4-inch thick crosswise, and add it to the pasta. Toss well, season to taste, and serve hot.

wht notes:

* Just as Ina suggests using a good bottle of olive oil, I must advise to splurge on the best Parmesan your budget allows. The cheese works so well with the lemon and cream flavors; and imo the better the cheese, the better this recipe is. Since you are saving money by not having to splash out for a protein, this is still a very affordable meal.

** Here’s one instance where you want to taste and add as you cook. We’ve found that every lemon is different, some stronger or juicier then others. Since it’s easy to get an overwhelming lemon taste, Eric picks medium sized lemons for juicing and uses the zest of just one lemon, adding more zest if necessary. Just keep an eye on the lemon flavors and you will have a successful meal on your hands!

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Written by Tyna Werner


  1. Profile photo of Tyna Werner
    Tyna Werner

    Oh how I wish I was having Lemon Fusilli tonight! You all should definitely try this one, it’s really good.

    Oh and Mel, I’m sure chicken could totally be added into this. Eric made it for Stef & I so we could take the photo and he purchased some shrimp that was added to Stef and Eric’s portion. He cooked the shrimp separately and just tossed them in when serving.

    Pam – I got my bowl from the Crate and Barrel Outlet at least 5 years ago! Still cute, no chips and the perfect pasta dish – you could say I heart it.

    .-= Tyna Werner´s last blog ..Question: want to be a we heart this tester? =-.

  2. Profile photo of Stef Andrews
    Stef Andrews

    I freakin’ heart Ina! She’s got such a soothing voice and she makes me wish I was a gay man and could be part of her gaggle of homosexuals that she makes pasta with 2 cups of heavy cream for. I feel like it would all be ok if I could just hang out with her at the East Hampton compound, eat her food, tell her she’s fabulous and wait for Jeffery to come home.

    Am I alone in this?

  3. Lois

    Okay, I’m salivating! If it ever stops raining here (who said it doesn’t rain in Southern California?), I’m going out to buy the ingredients tomorrow, and my family may actually get a home-cooked meal! They will heart you forever.

  4. Profile photo of winnie

    This is an excellent dish! I haven’t tried to make it myself but i’m still waiting for an invite over the next time he makes it! Its a great dish for a vegetarian and like you guys were saying above add chicken of shrimp. Having had it i would lean more on the shrimp side for sure

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