Creamy Lemony Pasta

The rains are here and the season for my favorite lemon variety from Benguet is now over. Already nostalgia begins to settle, and it is again time to draw from my supply of preserved lemons, this time to make creamy lemony pasta.

Dubbed Lorax lemon, it is quite possibly a relative of the Meyer lemon variety. Since encountering this lemon, with the Lorax’s floral fragrance, unwaxed skin, and really juicy pulp, I’ve stopped buying the commercially grown waxed lemons that flood our supermarket shelves. 

It is ideal to use unwaxed lemons when making preserved lemons because it’s the lemon peel that is at center stage here. We do have organic farmers in the uplands and Nueva Vizcaya, known as the citrus capital of the Philippines, who grow them. However, if waxed lemons are the only ones you have access to, there are a number of tutorials online for dewaxing lemons and other citruses. Just Google ‘remove wax from lemon’.

This creamy lemony pasta recipe is a riff on the preserved lemon pasta from Bon Appétit using an easy vegan sauce made of cashews, which proves to be quite versatile.

Ingredients (adapted from Bon Appétit)

  • 1lb. spaghetti
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 2 cloves fermented garlic
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped preserved lemon
  • 1 Tbsp. preserved lemon brine
  • 2 cups water + 1 cup pasta cooking water
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp of chili flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Chopped celery leaves (or parsley), for serving


  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions and remove just before it becomes al dente. Drain the pasta and set aside a cup of the pasta cooking water. 
  2. While the pasta is cooking, soak the cashews in 1 cup of freshly boiled water in a bowl for 15 minutes. 
  3. Transfer the cashews and the soaking liquid into the blender and add the fermented garlic, preserved lemon, brine, and another cup of water. Blend until it reaches a smooth consistency.  
  4. In a pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil to medium and add the chili flakes, making sure not to burn them.
  5. Lower the heat and add the cashew puree and cook, stirring regularly until the sauce thickens. 
  6. Transfer the pasta and cook in the cream sauce until al dente. Add a splash of the pasta cooking water if the sauce is too thick. (You won’t use up the entire cup.)
  7. Remove from heat and stir in the fresh lemon juice then garnish with chopped celery leaves.

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