Plate of pasta with glass of wine

Lemon Fusilli with Arugula

  • Author: closeenoughcook
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 servings 1x
  • Category: vegetarian
  • Cuisine: Italian


This simple dish is a crowd pleaser that’s packed with flavor. Bright lemon combines with parmesan and milk to create a craveable sauce. When mixed with al dente pasta, fresh tomatoes and peppery arugula, you get a dish that’s even tastier than the sum of its parts. 

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home



1 lb dry fusilli

1.5 tbsp olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

4 lemons

1.5 cups whole milk

.5 cups cream 

1 cup parmesan, grated (plus more for topping dish, optional)

2 pints grape tomatoes, halved

4 oz. baby arugula

salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Fill large pan with water and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat. 
  2. In large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. 
  3. Add minced garlic and cook for 30 second to a minute until fragrant.
  4. Zest and juice 3 three lemons. 
  5. Add milk, cream, lemon zest, and lemon juice to saute pan. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring sauce to a gentle boil then reduce to a simmer.  Allow sauce to simmer uncovered until it begins to thicken (approx. 12-15 minutes).
  6. Once the sauce begins to thicken, remove from heat and stir in grated parmesan.
  7. While sauce simmers, add fusilli to boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain fusilli once it is done cooking. Do not rinse pasta. 
  8. In a large serving bowl, add arugula, pasta and 2-3 slices of lemon from remaining lemon.  Pour hot sauce over top and mix.  Arugula will begin to wilt slightly.  
  9. After arugula beings to wilt, add grape tomato halves and mix again until tomatoes are fully incorporated.  Salt and pepper to taste, if needed.  Top with 3-4 more lemon slices. 
  10. If desired, top each serving with parmesan shavings. 

Keywords: vegetarian, pasta, italian