We’re back with Emiko Davies (perhaps our favourite chef and food writer) to share a recipe from her latest book Acquacotta, a celebration of cooking from her adopted home, Italy. Emiko’s tagliolini is a fuss-free failsafe, guaranteed to please any last-minute dinner guests.

Sometimes I am feeling particularly adventurous and energetic enough to cook something new or fiddly, and sometimes I just want something familiar, fast and guaranteed to be tasty. This dish is one of the latter – it takes almost no effort and is my ultimate quick meal.

Any pasta shape can work with this. With the silky, creamy, tangy sauce of lemon and zest, I particularly like something long and flat, like bavette or tagliolini. A dash of cream binds everything together, but Marco sometimes likes to add caprino (soft and tangy goat’s curd) instead. The sauce can be made in the time it takes the pasta to cook. If you’re in a real hurry to get food on the table, you can buy fresh pasta (as opposed to dried) and it only takes minutes to cook – and you’ll still be able to make the sauce in time. 

Ingredients (serves 4)

320 g (111⁄2 oz) tagliolini (or other long pasta)

2 large organic lemons

50 g (13⁄4 oz) butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

125 ml (4 fl oz/1⁄2 cup) pouring (single/light) cream

50 g (13⁄4 oz) grated pecorino or parmesan cheese


Put the pasta in a large pot of boiling, well-salted water.

Finely grate the lemons with a microplane for their zest (be careful not to use any of the white pith, as it’s unpleasantly bitter). Cut the lemons in half and squeeze all the juice from them. Set the zest and juice aside.

Put the butter and olive oil in a frying pan to melt over medium heat. Once melted, add the lemon zest and let it infuse for about 1 minute, stirring (do not let the lemon burn). Add the lemon juice and let it simmer for 3 minutes. Add the cream and about half the cheese, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a further 1–2 minutes or until thick. Remove from the heat.

Drain the pasta when al dente, but save about 125 ml (4 fl oz/1⁄2 cup)
of the pasta cooking water. Toss the tagliolini in the frying pan with the lemon sauce to coat. Add some extra pasta water if it’s looking dry. Serve with the rest of the grated cheese.

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