Asparagus Pasta Recipe

Indulge in the vibrant flavors of spring with this Asparagus Pasta recipe. Combining the crisp, green goodness of fresh asparagus with the tangy kick of lemon, the warmth of garlic, and the rich notes of Parmesan, this dish promises a delightful symphony of flavors. Quick and easy to make and have with your meal.

Perfect for those seeking a light yet satisfying meal, this recipe is not only simple to prepare but also brimming with healthful benefits. Whether you're hosting a casual dinner or looking for a quick and tasty weekday meal, this Asparagus Pasta will surely become a cherished addition to your culinary repertoire.

This was inspired by my pork tenderloin medallions on this site, and pairs well with this peas and carrots recipe. Perfect for spring with fresh asparagus.

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Ingredients in Lemon Asparagus Pasta

Love this recipe? Here are the ingredients you need.

  • Fresh asparagus: Adds a crisp, green crunch and a slightly sweet, earthy flavor to the dish, enhancing its freshness and nutritional value.
  • Minced garlic: Provides a pungent, aromatic undertone that complements the asparagus and adds depth to the overall flavor profile.
  • Lemon juice: Introduces a refreshing, tangy kick that brightens the flavors and balances the richness of the Parmesan.
  • Grated Parmesan: Offers a salty, nutty taste and creamy texture, melding beautifully with the other ingredients for a satisfying finish.
  • Ziti pasta: Serves as the hearty base of the dish, its tubular shape holding onto the flavors and adding substance to every bite.
  • Olive oil: Brings a hint of fruitiness and helps in sautéing the asparagus, while also enhancing the mouthfeel of the pasta.
  • Black pepper: Adds a slight heat and aromatic warmth, elevating the dish's complexity.
  • Red pepper flakes: Provides a spicy kick that contrasts with the fresh, green elements, adding dimension.
  • Dried basil: Infuses the pasta with a sweet, herbal note that complements the asparagus and adds a layer of Italian flavor.

See recipe card for quantities.

Instructions for Asparagus Lemon Pasta

You can make this recipe using these step by step instructions and pictures. Enjoy!

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add dried pasta to the boiling water and cook 1 minute less than al dente, or about 9 minutes according to package instructions. Before draining remove ½ cup pasta water.

2. Heat ½ tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the asparagus, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Saute until the asparagus is bright green and crisp-tender, about 3-4 minutes.

3. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove the asparagus from heat and stir in the lemon juice.

4. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta. Return the skillet with asparagus mixture to medium heat and add the pasta, basil and reserved pasta water.

5. Cook, tossing and stirring the pasta, until the pasta is al dente and almost all of the pasta water is absorbed - 5 to 6 minutes

6. Remove from heat, add the parmesan and remaining ½ tablespoon oil and toss to combine.

Hint: Reserving pasta water and adding it to the skillet creates a silky, emulsified sauce that clings beautifully to the pasta and vegetables, bringing all the flavors together harmoniously. Remember, the starch in the pasta water is the secret to that restaurant-quality finish!

Variations of Asparagus Pasta Recipe

Listen, you can try some other variations of this recipe that make for a fine dish! These are not accounted for in the recipe nutritional info.

  • Creamy Asparagus Pasta: For a richer, more decadent version, add a splash of heavy cream or a dollop of cream cheese to the skillet when you mix in the pasta water. This will create a creamy sauce that coats the pasta and asparagus beautifully. Top with additional grated Parmesan and fresh herbs for extra flavor.
  • Chicken and Asparagus Pasta: Add protein to make this dish even heartier. Sauté bite-sized pieces of chicken breast with the asparagus to add a savory depth to the meal. This variation is great for a more filling dinner and adds a wonderful texture contrast to the crisp asparagus and al dente pasta.
  • Lemon and Herb Asparagus Pasta: Amplify the freshness with additional herbs such as chopped fresh parsley, chives, or dill. Increase the amount of lemon juice and zest used to brighten the flavors further. This variation is particularly refreshing in the spring and summer months.
  • Spicy Shrimp Asparagus Pasta: Add some seafood flair by tossing in peeled and deveined shrimp with the asparagus. Cook until the shrimp are pink and opaque. Spice it up with extra red pepper flakes or a dash of cayenne pepper to complement the sweetness of the shrimp and the freshness of the asparagus. This variation adds a luxurious touch to a weeknight dinner.

Storage

  1. Store in airtight containers to keep fresh and prevent odor absorption.
  2. Cool to room temperature before storing to avoid sogginess.
  3. Refrigerate and consume within 3-4 days for best quality.
  4. Add a little water or olive oil when reheating to maintain moisture.

Top tip

Sauté the asparagus just until it's bright green and crisp-tender in this asparagus with pasta. Overcooking the asparagus can lead to a mushy texture that detracts from the fresh, vibrant quality of the dish. Cooking it just right ensures it retains its flavorful crunch and nutritional benefits, perfectly complementing the creamy, tangy elements of the pasta.

FAQ for Asparagus Pasta

Can I use frozen asparagus instead of fresh?

Yes, you can use frozen asparagus if fresh is not available. However, the texture and flavor may differ slightly. Thaw and drain it well before sautéing to prevent excess water from diluting the sauce.

Can I substitute the pasta type?

Absolutely! While ziti is recommended, you can use any pasta shape you prefer or have on hand, such as penne, spaghetti, or fettuccine. Just adjust the cooking time according to the pasta's package instructions.

Is this recipe suitable for vegetarians?

Yes, this Asparagus Pasta recipe is vegetarian-friendly. Ensure that the Parmesan cheese used is vegetarian (some contain animal rennet), or substitute with a vegetarian hard cheese for a completely vegetarian dish.

How can I make this recipe gluten-free?

To make this dish gluten-free, use your favorite gluten-free pasta instead of regular pasta. Also, check the labels on all other ingredients to ensure they do not contain hidden gluten sources.

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Recipe

Asparagus With Pasta Recipe

Orange bowl with Asparagus Pasta recipe on brown table background.

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A fresh, zesty Asparagus Pasta recipe with garlic, lemon, Parmesan, and spices for a light yet flavorful meal. Ideal for spring dinners.

  • Author: Mathea Ford, MBA, RDN, LD
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Low Salt

Ingredients

Scale

2 ounces fresh asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp grated parmesan

2 ounces ziti pasta

1 tbsp olive oil

¼ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp dried basil

Instructions

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add dried pasta to the boiling water and cook 1 minute less than al dente, or about 9 minutes according to package instructions. Before draining remove ½ cup pasta water.

2. While the pasta is cooking, wash and trim the asparagus and cut into 2 inch pieces.

3. Heat ½ tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the asparagus, black pepper and red pepper flakes.  Saute until the asparagus is bright green and crisp-tender, about 3-4 minutes. 

4. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Remove the asparagus from heat and stir in the lemon juice.  

5. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta.  Return the skillet with asparagus mixture to medium heat and add the pasta, basil and reserved pasta water.

6. Cook, tossing and stirring the pasta, until the pasta is al dente and almost all of the pasta water is absorbed - 5 to 6 minutes

7. Remove from heat, add the parmesan and remaining ½ tablespoon oil and toss to combine.  

8. Divide into portions and serve warm.

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