March 28, 2012

Low-Sodium Citrus Pasta

What do you do with a bushel of grapefruit, oranges, and lemons?

If you said juice, that’s a great idea (and, yes please, I’d love a glass).

If you said pasta, that’s even better (and I’ll take a whole bowl, thank you).

I can’t take credit for this idea. It’s genius.

I was actually served citrus pasta while dining out at one of my favorite local restaurants: Firefly. They always do me right with incredibly thoughtful, salt-free food. And this bowl of noodles proved to be no different–and, I mean, I’m talking giant soup bowl that was twice the size of my face, filled to the brim with fresh citrus and noodle goodies.

It was simple. Just browned butter with cooked bow-tie pasta. And I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that there was a lot of garlic, too.

But then there were fresh herbs, like chives, parsley, and mint. And, hold on to your hats, there was citrus. Oranges and grapefruits perfectly sliced from their rinds. Perfectly seasoned. And a perfect substitute to the usual, vegetable melange that traditionally dots your noodles.

Which is why I had to try my hand at it and make it for myself at home. And because it is so incredibly easy and even more impressive in its surprising flavor and bright color, I think you should try your hand at it, too.

(Tomatoes just got super jealous).

So happy pasta eating. Get cooking. And as always, chow on.



  • 4 small oranges
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 pound pasta noodles
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 10 mint leaves, cut into chiffonade ribbons
  • Sprinkle red chili pepper flake (optional)


Put a pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil.

While it gets hot, let’s attack the most difficult part of this recipe: segment the citrus flesh from the rind. Don’t panic. All you need is a sharp knife (or serrated bread knife) and this awesome tutorial from the ladies at, and it’s pretty easy. Just make sure that you zest one orange rind before you cut into it and set it aside. You’ll want to sprinkle that on the pasta later. And also, cut the supreme wedges over a bowl so that you collect all the juices that will inevitably spill out.

When you’re finished segmenting your citrus, the pasta water should be boiling. So go ahead and throw those noodles in. Cook until it reaches desired doneness, about 6 to 8 minutes depending on freshness and brand.

While the noodles cook, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir occasionally, allowing the minced cloves to infuse the olive oil, about 5 minutes. Add the orange and grapefruit juice (from when you cut the segments) and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to low heat.

Drain the noodles and add them to the skillet. Sprinkle with black pepper and then, with tongs, gently toss the noodles in the citrus garlic sauce. Cook for 2 to 3 more minutes and then pour everything into your serving bowl.

Add the citrus wedges, the citrus zest, and about 3/4 of your mint ribbons. Gently mix everything together one more time. Taste. Add more black pepper (and a sprinkle of red chili pepper flakes, if you like) until you’re happy with the flavor. And serve, sprinkling the leftover mint on top of everyone’s piles of pasta..

+ Sodium Count: Practically sodium-free

Oui, Chef April 2, 2012 at 10:53 am

This looks so refreshing, a perfect spring meal.

Annette July 11, 2012 at 9:16 am

This sounds fantastic…but I’m a little confused. You say to add the orange juice, but I don’t see anywhere to juice the orange?? Thank you!

magnoliasouth March 22, 2013 at 3:32 pm

For those of us who are on a low potassium diet a good substitute would be tangerines. I don’t know why, but tangerines are low in potassium and oranges are high. Wouldn’t you expect it to be the other way around?

I found an awesome video (by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution food guy) on slicing a tangerine which is a little similar to the orange one, but shows how to slice while leaving the seeds in the middle. Granted, they won’t be actually segmented, but you won’t have to worry about biting into seeds. lol!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: