Asparagus Pasta with Lemon and Parmesan

updated Sep 8, 2023
Asparagus Pasta Recipe

A very light and springy skillet pasta with big lemony flavor.

Serves4 to 6

Prep15 minutes

Cook15 minutes

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Asparagus pasta in serving bowl with fork.
Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Stylist: Micah Morton

This simple, springy asparagus pasta combines crisp-tender spears with your favorite long noodle, be it spaghetti or linguine, along with lots of garlic, lemon, and grated Parmesan cheese. The whole thing comes together in 30 minutes and requires just five ingredients —  it’s sure to become an instant favorite.

Ingredients for Asparagus Pasta

The ingredient list for this asparagus pasta is short and simple. It calls for the following ingredients:

  • Fresh asparagus, thinner stalks work best
  • Garlic
  • Lemon zest and juice
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Dried spaghetti or another long pasta like linguine or bucatini
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes and fresh basil, optional

How Do You Cut Asparagus for Pasta?

To prepare the asparagus, you’ll cut it crosswise on a slight diagonal into one-and-a-half-inch pieces. Thin asparagus is easiest to twirl with the slender strands of pasta, but asparagus that’s on the thicker side can also be used.

Do You Need to Blanch Asparagus for Pasta?

You don’t need to blanch the asparagus first before combining it with the pasta. Sauté the asparagus in olive oil until bright-green and crisp-tender, then mix in garlic, lemon zest, and lemon juice, before adding the al dente pasta right into the pan. A cup of pasta cooking water helps marry the two before Parmesan and a splash of olive oil are added.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Stylist: Micah Morton

Asparagus Pasta Recipe

A very light and springy skillet pasta with big lemony flavor.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 pound

    asparagus, preferably thin

  • 4 cloves

    garlic

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 1 ounce

    Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup firmly packed freshly grated or 1/3 cup store-bought grated), plus more for serving

  • 1 pound

    dried spaghetti or other long pasta, such as linguine or bucatini

  • 4 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes (optional)

  • Fresh basil leaves, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Trim 1 pound asparagus and cut crosswise on a slight diagonal into 1 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups). Mince 4 garlic cloves. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon (about 1 tablespoon). Juice the lemon until you have 3 tablespoons. ​​Finely grate 1 ounce Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 packed cup) or measure out 1/3 cup store-bought grated.

  2. Add 1 pound dried pasta to the boiling water and cook 1 minute less than al dente, about 9 minutes or according to package instructions. Meanwhile, cook the asparagus.

  3. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the asparagus, 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes if using. Sauté until the asparagus is bright green and crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice.

  4. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta. Return the skillet to medium heat and add the pasta, remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and reserved pasta water. Cook, tossing and stirring the pasta, until the pasta is al dente and almost all of the pasta water is absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes.

  5. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the Parmesan and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and toss to combine. Serve garnished with more grated Parmesan and torn fresh basil leaves if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.