Asparagus lemon pasta

Asparagus lemon pasta

I love Pastini’s farfalle with lemon asparagus. At least I did until they quit offering it.1 So I searched for an alternative I could make. I found the Best Asparagus Lemon Pasta recipe at This is my take on the recipe with directions that help me keep everything straight.

Sauce Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest2
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ teaspoon salt

Other Ingredients

  • 1 pound pasta3
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • ⅓ cup fresh basil, finely cut
  • ½ cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper


  • Substitute broccoli for asparagus
  • Pistachio nuts


Preparing this goes fairly fast. It will be done in the time it takes to heat the water and cook the pasta.

Put the water on the stove for the pasta and turn the heat on high. Add salt according to the directions and your taste.

In the meantime, after starting the water, add the butter to a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. After the butter has melted, add the heavy cream. Stir occasionally while it’s heating.

While waiting for the water to boil and the butter and cream mixture to heat to near boil, cut the asparagus4 into smallish pieces, maybe an inch long. A diagonal cut could be nice.

Squeeze lemons to make the lemon juice.

Maybe about this time, the water has started to boil. Add the pasta and start a timer. Put the veggies in a steamer or the microwave to cook, but not overcook. Then add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt to the sauce. Stir occasionally while the rest of the stuff cooks.

Finely5 cut the fresh basil.

By now, the veggies should be done and the pasta cooked. Before you drain the pasta, you can put ¼ cup of the pasta water in the sauce.6 The starch helps the sauce stick to the pasta.

At this point, you could add the sauce, asparagus, basil, and some of the parmesan cheese to the pasta and stir. Because we cook multiple kinds of pasta, we let everyone mix their own.7

Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with the freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Mmm… Asparagus lemon pasta. :-)


Asparagus isn’t always in season. We like to use broccoli as a backup.

When Pastini’s makes their version of this, they also sprinkle pistachio nuts on top. Pine nuts would probably be good, too. Recommended.

Photo credit: Thanks to Justin Logan for (1) trying out the recipe, (3) taking a picture of his results, and (3) letting me use it here! :-)

  1. And they haven’t started making it again, even after receiving multiple customer feedback cards. ;-) Update: They did bring it back, though I think just for a seasonal dish. I’ll take it. 
  2. The first time I tried this recipe, I tried to zest my lemons after squeezing them. That order doesn’t work very well. Zest ’em first! Or, just leave it out. You might not notice. 
  3. I prefer farfalle pasta, probably because that’s what Pastini’s uses. 
  4. The grocery store didn’t have asparagus I wanted so I got broccoli instead and cut it into small pieces. 
  5. And finally… ;-) 
  6. If one of your kinds of pasta is gluten free, that’s probably the water you want to use. Your friends with celiac will thank you. 
  7. A word of warning: the sauce is good and lemony. If your pasta is dripping with sauce, it’s probably too much. 

Author: Brent Logan

Engineer. Lawyer. WordPress geek. Longboarder. Blood donor. Photographer. More about Brent.

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