The Dish: Spicy Spaghettini with Preserved Lemon

Preserved lemons are an amazing addition to pasta dishes, roasted or grilled meats, vegetables, even cocktails! Their tangy and salty flavor adds a Mediterranean vibe to any dish.

Preserved lemons can be bought at specialty food stores or ordered online, but if you have a lemon tree in your backyard like I do, try your hand at making your own. They’re easy to do, make great gifts and keep for well over a year! Check out for instructions on how to make your own. Add a bay leaf, some peppercorns, chili flakes, or even a cinnamon stick to impart a little extra flavor and some added beauty to the jar.

To get you started on your preserved lemon obsession, try this recipe for Spicy Spaghettini (a type of thin spaghetti). It’s quick and simple but doesn’t skimp on the flavor. The crabmeat is optional but is a nice addition for a more filling meal. This is also a great opportunity to use your homemade chili or lemon oil from December.

Spicy Spaghettini with Preserved Lemon


  • 1/2 lb. spaghettini (spaghetti or angel hair pasta can but substituted)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 3 cloves thinly sliced garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons thinly sliced fresno chili or homemade chili oil
  • 1/2 pound shelled cooked crabmeat, cut into 1-inch pieces (from about 1 1/4 pound thawed frozen king crab legs)
  • 2 pieces preserved lemon, pulp discarded and finely chopped (1 tablespoon)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper to taste


Cook spaghettini in a pot of boiling salted water (3 tablespoons salt for 6 quarts water) until al dente.

Meanwhile, cook onion in oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring, until softened. Stir in garlic and chili. Continue cooking for 1 minute, then add preserved lemon and crabmeat. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until crabmeat is heated through.

Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking liquid. Add pasta to skillet along with remaining ingredients and toss to coat well. Add some of reserved cooking liquid for a looser sauce. Add more salt or pepper if desired.