Capellini with Lemon, Leeks, and Olive Oil

There’s nothing to match the power and versatility of the mighty lemon, whose juice and fragrant zest elevate all manner of sweet and savory things. In this pasta recipe, the lemon is is the star ingredient. “Capelli d’Angelo Olio e Limone” or Olive Oil and Lemon Angel Hair, adapted from the 1997 cookbook Pastissima! Pasta the Italian Way, was simple–deceptively so. There were few ingredients—a sauce comprised of onion (I substituted leeks) cooked in a fair amount of olive oil, mixed with a lot of lemon juice, tossed throughout pasta, and dusted with parmesan. It took mere minutes to make—and was truly delicious. Without question, this pasta would be a fine foundation for a plank of grilled fish, a tender fillet of trout, even a scatter of lump crabmeat. But solo, it is exceptional, light yet rich, with a pleasant tang. Use your best pasta here–DeCecco’s Capellini No.9 has been a constant favorite of mine.
By | December 07, 2015


  1. Heat olive oil on medium in a skillet or cast-iron pot. Add the leeks, and cook for about 5 minutes, until they become soft.
  2. Cook the capellini according to package directions–about 2 minutes in a large pot of salted boiling water. Drain well.
  3. Place pasta in the pot with the leeks and olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt, red pepper flakes (a couple of pinches) and pour lemon juice over all. Add most of the shredded cheese, reserving some to garnish the top of the pasta after it is served. Toss well, so that the lemon, olive oil, and leeks coat all the strands of pasta.
  4. Serve in warm bowls. Dust with more pecorino. Enjoy!

    Makes 2 generous servings.

See more of Nancy's recipes on her blog, Good Food Matters.

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  • 1 Leek, finely sliced
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  • Juice of 1 1/2 large Lemons
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Sea Salt
  • 1/2 cup shedded Pecorino-Romano
  • 6 ounces Capellini (DeCecco is excellent)
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