Creamy Lemon Asparagus Pasta is a 30 minute vegetarian meal that’s cozy and incredibly delicious. I call it comfort food, spring style!
creamy lemon asparagus pasta is all about balance
Let’s be honest ~ no matter how much we might love the change of seasons, and rejoice in all those fresh crisp veggies coming into season, we’re not always in the mood for salad for dinner. And as much as we’re thrilled to see the backend of winter, sooooooometimes we crave a little bit of that comfort food factor in our meals. Enter this delicious pasta dinner that celebrates the freshness of spring asparagus combined with the decadence of a simple lemon cream sauce. Mic drop.
what you’ll need
- pasta ~ I used bowties here, but feel free to sub in any shape you like. Spirals would catch the sauce nicely, but penne would echo the shape of the asparagus…
- asparagus ~ trimmed and cut into 2-3 inch pieces. Which is better, thick or thin asparagus? I tackle that question in this asparagus gratin post but spoiler alert: while both are delicious (research has found that thicker asparagus is actually more tender!) thin stalks work best for this dish.
- heavy cream makes the sauce decadent and it won’t curdle when combined with the lemon juice.
- lemon – zest and juice give the sauce its signature flavor.
- butter adds a little body to the creamy sauce.
- parmesan cheese adds its unique brand of salty nuttiness that complements the other flavors just perfectly and adds satisfying body to the sauce.
- fresh cracked black pepper
pasta recipes are meant to be messed with
Even though I write recipes for a living, the way I cook in real life is a lot more loose and recipe-free. I think pasta is the perfect excuse to practice your improv skills.
- Use a different seasonal vegetable like fresh (or frozen) peas, spinach, arugula, or broccoli.
- Add chicken, shrimp, sausage, bacon, or prosciutto, for a protein boost.
- Go totally minimalist and make a delicious, simple pasta with just the lemon cream sauce and lots of fresh pepper. I’ve been there and it’s amazing.
- Vary the flavor of the sauce by adding a little white wine, garlic or shallot.
more pasta for dinner
- Spaghetti Peperonata with Tuna and Olives
- Farfalle with Salmon, Lemon, and Peas
- Pasta with Radicchio, Bacon, and Walnuts
- Breakfast Pasta Carbonara
- Wild Mushroom Pasta with Hazelnuts
Creamy Lemon and Asparagus Pasta
- 3/4 lb dried pasta
- 1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
- 8 ounces heavy cream
- zest of 1 lemon
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup pasta cooking water
- fresh cracked pepper and parmesan cheese, for serving
- Cook the pasta in a big pot of well salted water until just al dente. I usually cook it for a few minutes shy of what it says on the box.
- Drop the asparagus in for the last minute of cooking. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
- Meanwhile pour the cream into a skillet with deep sides (big enough to hold the finished pasta) and bring to a simmer. Add the lemon juice, zest, and salt.
- Add the butter, a tablespoon at a time, to the sauce, and stir to melt it. Taste to adjust the salt or the lemon juice.
- Add the drained pasta and asparagus to the skillet and toss to combine, adding the 1/4 cup hot pasta water along with it.
- Serve immediately, topped with plenty of Parmesan cheese and fresh cracked black pepper.