Too much asparagus might be the definition of a fancy problem, but there I was, looking down at three hefty bunches I impulse-bought on sale. My usual move when faced with a surfeit of veg is to blitz it into a puréed soup, but then I wondered – could asparagus be transformed into a silky, pastel-green sauce for pasta?
The answer, I discovered through trial and error, is a resounding “yes,” especially when you blend peas into the sauce and keep it nice and green by adding a handful of fresh arugula (asparagus, I remembered while testing, isn’t the prettiest shade when cooked).
Morels, shallots, lemon zest, Pecorino – these are the add-ins I wound up loving the most, since they play well together and all but scream spring. Enjoy this asparagus pasta recipe hot – and then (if you’re like me), enjoy it even more the next day straight from the fridge, with an extra squeeze of lemon juice and a generous drizzle of olive oil.
Yield: 4–6 Time: 50 minutes
- 1½ lb. Asparagus (see footnote), bottom inch removed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
- 8 oz. Mushrooms, such as morels, chanterelles, or shiitakes, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced ¼-in. thick (3 cups)
- 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
- ⅔ cup finely chopped shallots
- 2 cups packed arugula leaves
- 1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
- 1 lb. Farfalle (bowtie) pasta
- 1 cup packed finely grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for garnish
- 2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- Peel the bottom half of the asparagus stalks down to the white flesh. Remove and reserve the tips, then coarsely chop the stalks.
- To a large pot set over medium-high heat, add the oil. When it’s shimmering and hot, add the mushrooms and asparagus tips and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned, about 7 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter, stir until melted, then scrape into a bowl and set aside.
- To the empty pot, add 2 tablespoons of the butter, the shallots, and asparagus stalks and turn the heat to medium. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the stalks are al dente, about 8 minutes. Add 4½ cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the arugula and peas and boil for 1 minute more. Using an immersion (or regular) blender, process until it’s as smooth as possible. Add salt to taste (it should be assertively seasoned).
- Add the farfalle, turn the heat to medium, and cover. Boil, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot every 2 minutes on the dot to prevent sticking, until the pasta is nearly al dente, about 9 minutes.
- Uncover, turn the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring every 15 seconds, until the sauce has thickened and the pasta is al dente, 3–5 minutes more. Add the Pecorino, lemon zest and juice, remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and half of the mushroom-asparagus mixture and cook for 1 minute more. Season with black pepper to taste.
- To serve, divide the pasta among 4–6 bowls. Garnish each with the remaining asparagus-mushroom mixture, then drizzle with oil and sprinkle with Pecorino.
Note: Seek out asparagus that are ½ inch thick (thinner asparagus can be stringy, and thicker can be woody). Peeling the stalks in step 1 is essential as fibrous bottoms make for a far less creamy sauce.
This article was written by Benjamin Kemper from Saveur and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.