a farewell to summer: gin-infused creamy lemon sauce with basil

gin-infused creamy lemon and basil sauce with spaghetti
I had a couple of lemons leftover from a recent Dinner Doctor blog post that I had written for The Guardian newspaper, on what to do with a leftover lemon. So I thought I'd post this recipe, just to prove that I really do practice what I preach!

Using up these lemons is a lovely way to wave farewell to our dreams of summer with a zesty, yet creamy sauce. It is perfect with pasta but also works beautifully with seafood, such as prawns or firm-fleshed white fish. The zesty aromatics of the gin works particularly well here but leave it out if you don't have any gin!

Serves 4
Skill level: Easy

2 x lemons
250ml double cream
80ml gin
cooked pasta, such as spaghetti
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh basil, finely chopped
parmesan or pecorino cheese, to serve


  1. Unless you are really good at getting your timings right, I'd start cooking the sauce before cooking the pasta.
  2. Zest one lemon, making sure that you don't remove any of the white pith (which is bitter). Set aside.
  3. Cut a slice from each end of the zested lemon. Stand the lemon on one cut end on the chopping board. Using a very sharp knife or paring knife, cut the remaining skin and pith away from the lemon flesh.
  4. Cut the lemon into slices. Pull the segments away from the tough inner membrane and set aside in a small bowl. Make sure you remove any pips as well. Tip any lemon juice into the bowl too.
  5. Juice the second lemon. (A good way to get more lemon juice from your lemon is to carefully heat the lemon in the microwave in 10 second blasts, but no more than 30 seconds in all. Alternatively, bash the lemon several times on a hard surface and then roll, using the heel of your hand to put pressure on the lemon.)
  6. In a small saucepan, gently heat the cream, gin and lemon segments until the liquid boils. Simmer on the lowest heat for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken. 
  7. It's probably a good time to get the pasta cooking at this point. Cook dried pasta in lightly salted boiling water as instructed according to the packet instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta.
  8. As the pasta is draining, add the lemon juice, half of the lemon zest and salt (to taste) to the sauce. Reheat the sauce if necessary.
  9. Toss the drained pasta with the warmed sauce and a handful of finely chopped fresh basil.
  10. Serve with freshly ground black pepper, the rest of the lemon zest and a little more chopped basil.
  11. I suspect I am committing some kind of solecism as far as Italians are concerned, but I like to serve mine with a few curls of parmesan or pecorino cheese.


Unknown said...

gin infused... tick

Sally from the Alley said...

italians would not object to parmesan, which is only banned with fish ;) but rather than basil i would use parsley. thats based on 17 years of cooking in italy...

Jacqueline Meldrum said...

Oh that does sound wonderful!

Jeanne said...

Holy cow that looks good! I think more pasta sauces should be gin-infused... )

Bintu @ Recipes From A Pantry said...

I got sent some gin the other day and I was wondering what else to do with it apart from in cocktails. So I am pleased to see this recipe.

Anonymous said...

Lovely gin! How clever and mix it with fresh lemons in a sauce, I love it! :) It sounds and looks delicious.