Lemon-Basil Pasta with Parmesan

Fresh, bright and light, but also intensely flavorful... It's those charred lemons... they're mildly tart, yet ultra-caramelized, so it's tangy-meets-sweet, which partners perfectly with vibrant basil and salty parmesan cheese. Add a little garlic and butter and I just gave you the entire ingredient list. Lemons are abundant, pasta is affordable, and this 20-minute dish pleases every palate on the planet.

I'm reasonably confident that you will adore this dish. especially if you like lemons. Even if you don't relish their existence, you will love them in this dish. I know this to be true because I tested the recipe on mediocre lemon fans. It's the charring that changes the game. Softening and blackening the flesh of the lemons brings out their sweetness, and adds a distinct caramel note. But not "caramel like candy" caramel. Just a smoky-ish, sweeter lemon flavor. Now imagine how that works when mingled with pasta, basil and cheese.

Charred lemons also work with chicken fish and shellfish - so bookmark the "searing of the lemons" part below for future meals!

Lemon-Basil Pasta with Parmesan 
Note: Don't forget to reserve 1 cup of the pasta water when you drain the pasta! 

1 pound pasta of choice, I chose penne
Cooking spray
2 whole lemons, sliced into 1-inch thick rounds
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid and cover with foil to keep warm.
Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and preheat to medium-high. Sear the lemons in the hot pan until dark brown on both sides, about 1 minute per side if your pan is hot enough. Transfer the lemons to a plate and set aside.
Heat the oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter together in the same skillet over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the pasta, reserved pasta water and parmesan cheese. Toss to coat the pasta well. Fold in the remaining tablespoon of butter and basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
Serve with the seared lemons and extra parmesan cheese on the side. 
Serves 4