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A Trick to Make Almost Any Pasta Sauce Brighter

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Watch this video and be amazed:

Okay, now you probably didn't really understand what you just saw. It was this: Fresh pasta tossed with butter and lemon zest before it met tomato sauce. This simple dusting of lemon zest adds a touch of brightness without any additional acid, Kristen Miglore—who got the tip from David Mawhinney, Culinary Director and Executive Chef at Haven's Kitchen, and showcased it in her Genius Recipes column—points out.

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And while the fresh tomato sauce shown above is wonderful, tomatoes aren't in season just yet—and this trick is too good to wait until summer for. So, unless you think a bit of lemon and butter will drastically alter the flavor profile of a pasta dish, you can use this tip to make any pasta a bit brighter-tasting. Here's what to do:

  • Make your sauce.
  • At the same time or after the sauce is finished (this depends on what kind of sauce you're making), cook your pasta.
  • Drain the pasta, place into a bowl, and toss with a knob of butter until it melts followed by a dusting of lemon zest, grated on a Microplane, if you please. Toss again.
  • Add your sauce.
  • If you're topping the pasta with cheese, do as Mawhinney does and "finish "with Parmesan, tapping the same Microplane he used on the lemon."

If you don't already have a pasta in mind (or 10), here are some ideas to try the tip with first:

Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter

Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter by Genius Recipes

Bucatini Pasta with Pork Ragu

Bucatini Pasta with Pork Ragu by Jenya | BlueGalley

Linguine with Breadcrumbs and Kale

Linguine with Breadcrumbs and Kale by Hotplate Gourmet

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara by Brette Warshaw

Rigatoni with Fennel and Veal Sausage

Rigatoni with Fennel and Veal Sausage by Cristina Sciarra

Cavatelli with Asiago Oat Crumbs

Cavatelli with Asiago Oat Crumbs by QueenSashy

White Pasta with Garlic Parmigiano Breadcrumbs

White Pasta with Garlic Parmigiano Breadcrumbs by sdebrango

Creamy Mushroom Pasta

Creamy Mushroom Pasta by Kendra Vaculin

Do you have a pasta pick-me-up trick? Tell us about it in the comments.