Meatless Monday & Money Matters: Baked Lemon Pasta


July 9th, here we are. My first day at my new job as Director of Nutrition Services.

I’m excited and nervous, but also a bit sad that all daytime fun with Lily and the beach will have to be postponed to weekends. I’m not sure who will slip into a deeper depression over this fact, she or I.

But, it’s back to the grind…a more exciting grind, however. As expected, sleep was minimal last night. Thank goodness I had the coffee pot ready to go and my outfit picked out. 😀 Though my commute is nearly free of traffic, I’m going to allow plenty of time. Admittedly, I tend to not be so punctual at times. (Ooops.)


I’m glad that we were able to have visitors for the 4th this past week. One of those people being Kristen, best friend x25 years and counting. To say I know this girl is quite the understatement, but I must say, her taste buds are changing. She surprised me with quite a few things during her visit.

What I do know about Kristen is that she loves pasta and she loves lemon. She actually adds lemon to just about everything. Literally. I like lemon a lot, too…especially with pasta. While I couldn’t wait for Kristen’s arrival to try this dish (too darn anxious!), she did enjoy the leftovers. She is infamous for raiding the kitchen of leftovers and eating them straight from the dish with her (clean) fingers. Kristen believes this pasta is great not only leftover, but also cold.


There’s absolutely nothing special about this dish other than its classic flavors. They are simply the best and very refreshing with the citrus punch and comforting cheese.

I did quite a lot to slim down this recipe. The original version calls for 4 tablespoons of butter (I reduced to 2) and 2 tablespoons of olive oil (which I omitted). I also swapped out sour cream for a 2% plain Greek yogurt that can offer up the tang and consistency of sour cream, while packing in those healthy bacterial cultures that are so healthy for your gut, along with added protein and less fat. And of course, I used a whole wheat pasta for the fiber and added nutrients.

Just be sure you don’t skip out on that finishing touch of one final squeeze of lemon juice…it makes this dish!



Baked Lemon Pasta slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks and I Was Born To Cook

1 lb whole wheat spaghetti
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large lemon, juiced and zested
2 cups 2% plain Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 oz (1/2 cup) pecorino romano cheese, grated
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
extra lemon juice, to taste


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook spaghetti until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Melt butter in a skillet over low heat. Add garlic, then lemon juice. Turn heat off, then add yogurt and stir to combine. Add lemon zest and salt, and taste to adjust salt if necessary. Pour mixture over pasta and stir, then transfer to an oven safe dish if needed.

Cover and bake for 15 minutes. Remove cover and bake for another 8-10 minutes, making sure not to dry out pasta. Remove from oven and add extra lemon juice, cheese and parsley.

Yield: 8 servings (about 1 heaping cup each)

Nutrition Information (per serving): 294 calories; 7.9 g. fat; 10 mg. cholesterol; 302 mg. sodium; 44.4 g. carbohydrate; 6.1 g. fiber; 13.8 g. protein

Result: Simple flavors. This is some sort of summer comfort food. All the comfort from the pasta and cheese with all the flavor from the lemon. I love the short ingredient list and the fact that this “slimmed up” so well. If you’re looking to make this a meat-lovers meal, I would serve with with some grilled chicken or shrimp skewers. To keep it veg-friendly, a salad or veggie side is perfect! Enjoy!

Money Matters: The Greek yogurt is the most expensive ingredient – $1.50/cup and the cheese is the second most expensive ingredient at $0.95/oz. The pasta can be found on sale for $1.20/lb. Lemons are about $0.60 each and the remaining ingredients come in around $1.10. The total cost of the recipe comes to $7.80 and the cost per servings is $0.98.


First day jitters! Here we go! :)

Be well,


  1. JH says

    This looks so good. What brand pasta do you use ? I am having problems finding a whole wheat one that doesn’t tast like sawdust….

    • Nicole, RD says

      Hi JH! I love Barilla Plus (yellow box). It has all the fiber and omega 3’s, too. It definitely looks/tastes more like white vs. whole wheat. Worth the slightly higher price, for sure :)

  2. says

    This is one of my favorite comfort food recipes! I made it a few years ago when I was searching for something similar to a baked lemon pasta I had out at Romanos Macaroni Grill. I’ve been meaning to make it again – thanks for reminding me how good it is :)

  3. says

    Have fun today! First days are so exciting. :)

    This pasta sounds so good. I love simple recipes like this – especially in the summer. I’m in no mood to put a whole lot of effort into cooking when it’s nice out.

  4. says

    That looks like the perfect summer pasta dish – I am going to try to sneak that in this week – hopefully the hubs approves! 😀 You will do great in your new job – no worries!

  5. says

    Love how you slimmed this dish. I definitely want to try it soon – I’m a sucker for lemon in anything, particularly pasta. Good luck at the new job!

  6. says

    I really love lemon with pasta, it has such a lightening effect. This looks perfect for summer!

    Good luck with the new job!

  7. says

    I just made this tonight….so good! I would have never thought to use yogurt like that. I added spinach and toasted almonds for a crunch…can’t wait to have for lunch tomorrow too!

  8. Nancy says

    Your recipes look so good and with the healthy twist I always look for. Can’t wait to try this one out.

  9. Alissa says

    You can use coconut oil instead of the butter, making this delicious dish (almost) healthy. I also added zucchini and squash. Will definitely make this again.

    • Nicole, RD says

      Eek…I don’t think coconut oil on a savory pasta would be very good :-/ Butter has nearly half the amount of saturated fat and less calories, just to play devil’s advocate!

      • Alissa says

        You actually can’t taste the coconut oil at all in the pasta and coconut oil has more health benefits even though it’s higher in fat. (It’s the “good” fat anyways and butter has no nutritional value.)

  10. Rhonda Hinken says

    I am on weightwatchers. Do you the point value and serving size? This is exactly what I am looking for! Thanks for sharing!

    • Nicole Morrissey says

      Hi Rhonda! I’m not sure I understand your question. I do not calculate points values, but all of the necessary information should be there. Everything is represented in the serving size. I hope that helps! :)


  1. […] Instead, I served this to mom, dad, and Kristen. Mr. Prevention, too. Of course there’s nothing not to love about this and Kristen was spotted eating the leftovers cold and straight out of the fridge on several occasions…just like the Baked Lemon Pasta. […]

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