Tagliatelle with sugar peas in a lemon butter sauce

One sure way to succeed with pasta is to return absolutely to basics, to childhood, to that frantic time after school when you’d pulled out the bread and butter and had to decide what to put on it. That first lesson of associating flavours has never left me. Later on it was bread and butter at the table, to fit the last of the beef into a sandwich, or to wipe up the sauce. During my restaurant days, dinner was often a piece of freshly baked bread, a slab of butter and a handful of sugar peas, or snow peas, cooked quickly in a roaring stock. It was nothing to add a good turn of black pepper, some herbs from a nearby bowl and a squeeze of lemon. It was delicious, and always looked forward to.

In no time, this dish, the bread replaced by some pasta, had made it to the main menu, and there it was to stay in many guises until the day the joint was sold. It’s a valuable lesson: think of what you like, and keep adding to it. Soon the pasta and lemon butter were working with prawns, and corn, and scallops, and beans. Anything which liked butter liked this dish; and anybody too.

juice of 2-3 lemons

100 g unsalted butter (use unsalted, so you can season it to your needs), cut into cubes


1/2 dozen sugar peas per person

handful of sweetcorn, cooked on the cob and sliced free (per person)

fresh pasta, made yourself zest of 1 lemon black pepper fresh herbs


The sauce is simplicity itself.

Heat the lemon juice in a saucepan and whisk in the butter, piece by piece, until it has gone from lemon juice and butter pieces into a silky smooth sauce. Add salt and taste. Set aside in a warm place. You can also do this in the microwave.

Just put the butter and lemon juice in an open bowl, and cook for about a minute until the butter is just melting. Whisk until it has emulsified. You must make sure it does not get too hot, or the butter will split into its components.


Cook the sugar peas and corn quickly in boiling water.


Cook the pasta and toss it through three-quarters of the sauce. Toss the hot vegetables and lemon zest through the rest of the sauce and add to the pasta. Serve with the sauce holding the pasta. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and several turns of the pepper grinder. That’s it.

WINE: Lemon butter sauce and good Rhine riesling. Ah! The best Australian Rhines consistently come from Clare and Eden Valley in South Oz. Sure bets are: Barry, Knappstein or Petaluma from Clare or Orlando, St Helga, Kron-dorf or Leo Buring from Eden Valley. All these wines age beautifully.

One Response to “Tagliatelle with sugar peas in a lemon butter sauce”

  1. [...] on the edge of freshly cooked pasta, tossed with lemonĀ butter sauce, snow peas and fresh [...]