A couple of weeks ago I went to Portland for the very first time. Portland was everything I was expecting, a lovely city with great food and beautiful hikes. There was one restaurant though, that I was slightly disappointed in. The overcooked spaghetti aglio e olio was bland and had clumps of parmesan cheese. It may sound odd, but this actually inspired me to go home and create a much better version of the pasta. Aglio e olio is a very simple pasta with just garlic, olive oil, parmesan, and sometimes red chili flakes. I took this idea and decided to up the flavors by adding an herb jam, green olives, and garlic breadcrumbs. This spaghetti with lemon herb jam is light but full of flavor and texture, just the pasta dish that I was looking for.

spaghetti with lemon herb jam and garlic breadcrumbs

spaghetti with lemon herb jam and garlic breadcrumbs


Serves 2


Spaghetti with Lemon Herb Jam and Garlic Breadcrumbs

45 minTotal Time

Recipe Image
Save RecipeSave Recipe


    Garlic breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ cup panko
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Lemon herb jam
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 2 cups parsley
  • ½ cup basil
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 whole garlic cloves
  • 3 green olives, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp red chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Remaining ingredients
  • 8 ounces bronze die spaghetti
  • ½ cup grated parmesan, plus extra for finishing
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup green olives, sliced
  • zest of ½ lemon


  1. Make the garlic breadcrumbs. Melt 2 tbsp butter in a nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and garlic powder, stirring to combine. Cook until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, stirring often. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Make the lemon herb jam. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the spinach, parsley, basil, and cilantro and blanch for 1 minute. Remove the herbs and shock in ice water. Drain the herbs and squeeze out the excess water. Finely chop the herbs and set aside.
  3. Heat ¼ cup olive oil a sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic cloves and cook until browned and softened, about 5 minutes. Mash the garlic with a fork. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the olives and chili flakes to the oil. Saute for 30 seconds. Add the chopped herbs and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 tbsp lemon juice and 2 tbsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid.
  5. Combine the cooking liquid with the lemon herb jam. Toss with the pasta along with ½ cup grated parmesan, 2 tbsp butter, and ¼ cup sliced green olives. Heat over medium heat, stirring until the cheese has melted. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Portion the pasta into two bowls. Top with ¼ cup breadcrumbs per plate, extra parmesan, and lemon zest. Serve immediately.


**Helpful tips and common mistakes

The concept of an herb jam might seem strange, but it’s actually quite simple and delicious. Think of it as a cooked pesto without all the cheese. Convinced yet?

Start by blanching the herbs including the spinach, parsley, basil, and cilantro to preserve their bright green color. Drain the hot water and shock the herbs in ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain once more and squeeze out the excess water.

blanched herbs

Finish the herb jam by slowly cooking whole garlic in oil. Mash the garlic, add the olives and chili flakes and the chopped herbs. Let everything simmer together so the flavors can marry and meld. Season with salt and pepper and finish with freshly squeezed lemon juice and olive oil. I like to make a big jar of this herb jam so I can smear on my avocado toast, pizza, roasted vegetables, pretty much everything.

While you’re at it, you might as well make a large batch of garlic breadcrumbs. You’ll want to make extra because what wouldn’t taste great with a sprinkle of seasoned crispy breadcrumbs, am I right? Simply toast panko with garlic and olive oil until golden brown. If you want to go the extra step, make your own breadcrumbs, which in all honesty, would probably taste even better.

garlic breadcrumbs

Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions and make sure to save the cooking water. This cooking water is crucial whenever you make pasta because it helps bind the sauce with the noodles. In this instance, the water also creates the sauce once it’s combined with the lemon herb jam. Loosen the jam with the water, pour over the pasta and sprinkle a generous amount of parmesan on top along with the olives and butter.

spaghetti with lemon herb jam and garlic breadcrumbs

If you like extra spicy, add more red chili flakes. Finish the spaghetti with the garlic breadcrumbs, more parmesan, and lemon zest.

This spaghetti with lemon herb jam waits for no one. It must be eaten immediately to prevent the breadcrumbs from getting soggy and the cheese from clumping. This shouldn’t be a problem because once you have one bite, there probably won’t be any left. The bright lemon with the briny olives, crunchy breadcrumbs, herb jam, and parmesan really is the best combination.

spaghetti with lemon herb jam and garlic breadcrumbs


Looking for someone to come to your house and prepare these dishes for you? It is possible! If you are in Los Angeles and looking for a private chef, please feel free to contact me. For more information, visit Private Kitchen Los Angeles.


Sharing is caring!