Julia's Easy Bucatini With Lemon Mascarpone

Quick and easy weeknight meals must surely be one of the most frequently Googled food searches of all time. This month, Julia Busuttil Nishimura is here to help!

Julia’s 2017 cookbook Ostro is widely revered for its wonderfully simple and delicious recipes, endorsed by home cooks everywhere, as well as heavy hitters Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson. You might have noticed on our Instagram stories over the weekend we released a list of ingredients – we’ll be doing this for every recipe this month, so you can get all the stuff you need, and be ready to cook like Julia every Tuesday this month, as we release each recipe in this series!

And if you DO get inspired to try Julia’s super easy weeknight dishes this month, share via instagram with #TDFchef so we can re-share – let’s do this!

Julia Busuttil Nishimura
Supported by Miele

These five simple ingredients (plus olive oil) are all you need for this delicious midweek pasta! Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Stylist – Lucy Feagins. Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

Pro tip: reserve some of the pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce and create a lusciously silky coating for the pasta. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Stylist – Lucy Feagins. Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

Our fave foodie Julia Busuttil-Nishimura, wearing Lee Mathews dress. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Stylist – Lucy Feagins. Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

Julia Busuttil Nishimura
6th of November 2018

This pasta dish is so incredibly simple. Everything-is-ready-by-the-time-the-pasta-has-cooked kind of simple, and as the weather begins to warm up, that’s the kind of food I love to make. Because there are only a few ingredients, it’s important to buy the best quality you can afford – pasta, mascarpone, lemons, parmesan and olive oil.

If you can’t find mascarpone, double cream will work just as well. I like this sauce quite zingy, but feel free to add half of the lemon juice first, taste, then see if you want to add the rest. It completely depends on the lemons too. Just go by taste. Usually for this sauce, I like to make a handmade Pici – a thick long spaghetti-like noodle. But on weeknights, it’s all about dried pasta and here I’ve used bucatini but spaghetti, fettuccine or linguine would be lovely too.

One of the most important things when cooking pasta is to keep some of the pasta water before you drain the pasta. It’s salty and starchy and can be used to help emulsify a sauce or in this case, loosen it and create a lusciously silky coating for the pasta. I’ve suggested 320g of pasta for 4 people, the amount we eat at home, and the usual amount measured per person in Italy, but of course increase it if more is needed, just be mindful that the sauce may need to be adjusted too – you can do this by adding more of everything in the beginning, or simply thinning it out with some pasta water.

Ingredients (serves 4)

320g bucatini or another long pasta (ie. spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine)

150g mascarpone

Zest of 1 lemon and the juice of 2

70g parmesan, finely grated

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Basil leaves, to serve


In a large heatproof bowl, place the mascarpone, lemon zest and juice, parmesan and olive oil. Sit the bowl over a pot of boiling water (you will use this pot to cook the pasta in so be sure it’s large enough). Very gently whisk the mixture over the boiling water until it is well combined and the mascarpone has melted to create a thick sauce (around 1-2 minutes). It will still be slightly grainy at this point but will become smoother once the hot pasta is added. Remove the bowl from the pot and set aside.

Season the water generously with sea salt and cook the pasta ’til al dente, according to the instructions on the packet. If the sauce cools down too much while the pasta is cooking, you can sit the bowl on top of the pot briefly towards the end of the cooking.

Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the pasta water, and toss the pasta through the sauce. Keep tossing until everything is well coated, adding a little of the pasta water if it seems too dry. Season cautiously with salt, remembering that parmesan has already been added, and generously with black pepper. Transfer to a serving platter, top with more pepper and scatter over some basil leaves. Serve immediately.

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