This six-ingredient lemon asparagus pasta dish is "carbonara creamy" and loaded with just what you'd expect - garlic, asparagus and fresh lemon.
Double or triple the recipe for an easy meal for entertaining inside - or al fresco in the backyard.
How to make lemon asparagus pasta
- Pasta: When it comes to simple recipes like this that have very few ingredients, let your wallet be your guide for the best pasta you can find.
- Maybe stick your head into a local food specialty shop, and see what they have for fresh or boxed pasta.
- The building block of this dish is the spaghetti, so feel free to splurge on what really appeals to you.
- Olive Oil: We all know that certain television personality and cookbook author who always recommends, “really good olive oil.”
- (Hint, it’s Ina Garten!) In case you’ve ever wondered what she means by “really good,” she means her personal favorite Olio Santo Olive Oil from California.
- She loves the fruitiness of the olive oil. But, again, splurge for the best stuff to your taste that your wallet will give a thumbs up to.
- Whether it’s Italian olive oil, or a domestic brand, cook with what makes you happy.
- Parmesan: Spring for the best stuff you can afford.
- The older the parmesan, the more crystallization you get. Crystallization equals flavor.
- Look for Parmigiano-Reggiano that’s been aged for at least 24 months.
- Egg yolks: This gives the rich, decadent flavor and 'sauce' of carbonara!
- You'll want to make all of your pasta with egg yolks.
- Freshly-Cracked Black Pepper: This isn’t a recipe where you want old and dusty black pepper that’s pre-ground and lives on the back of the stove. (I’d actually argue that about any recipe!)
- This is a recipe that screams out for freshly ground black pepper – and a decent amount of it.
- Lemons: Fresh lemons are always the way to go!
- Bottled lemon juice just doesn’t have the same oomph as a freshly squeezed lemon.
- Plus, has there ever been a time when the scent of freshly squeezed lemon juice hit your nose and you didn’t sigh with joy?
- A cutting board and chef's knife.
- A stove.
- A large stock pot for cooking the asparagus and pasta.
- A colander and spider or slotted spoon.
- A medium to large bowl filled with ice water.
- Measuring cups and spoons or you can wing it.
- A microplane for zesting the lemon and shredding Parmesan.
- A glass measuring cup or mug to scoop out some pasta water.
- Tongs for tossing the spaghetti.
- Bowls and forks for serving.
- This recipe is vegetarian, but if you wanted to add a hit of smoky bacon to the bright and sunny pasta, go ahead. It will be delicious!
- Adding bacon and peas for even more of a kiss of springtime flavor would be fabulous.
- Serving a good crusty bread with the pasta would be amazing.
- Do you know what would be even better than just crusty rustic bread with this pasta?
- A lemon compound butter to spread on the bread! It takes just a minute to make, but it really elevates everything it touches.
- And for dessert, lean into the simplicity of the meal by serving an elegant fruit salad.
- A simple salad of strawberries, peaches, melon, and basil would be the perfect ending to the meal of lemon asparagus pasta.
Recipe Substitutions & Alterations
- To make it gluten free: Use gluten free pasta and assure all other packaged ingredients are gluten free.
- To make it dairy free: Skip the Parmesan and try it with nutritional yeast instead.
- To make it vegan: Skip the Parmesan and try it with nutritional yeast instead. Also skip the egg yolks and just add a bit more olive oil to finish the dish.
- To make it high in protein: Serve with grilled or sauteed salmon or chicken. Use protein-fortified pasta.
Storage and Reheating Suggestions
- Let slightly cool before transfering the pasta leftovers to airtight containers.
- Pasta will hold up in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
- Reheat individual servings in the microwave 60-90 seconds or until heated through.
- I wouldn't recommend freezing this pasta.
Tip for making the best pasta with asparagus and lemon
- Cook the pasta just a hair under al dente so it doesn't overcook when you add it back to the pot with the pasta water and other ingredients.
- This recipe is made "carbonara style", meaning the spaghetti is tossed in egg yolks and Parmesan at the end of the cooking process.
- In order to avoid making scrambled eggs, remove the pot from the heat and toss the egg yolks into the spaghetti using tongs.
- Some people transfer the spaghetti to a bowl, then adding the egg yolks to avoid scrambling, but I've found my method fool proof!
- Just be sure to remove the pot from the heat first rather than adding the egg yolks while it's still on the stove.
Asparagus Recipe Round-Up
- Air Fryer Asparagus Fritters
- Asparagus-Stuffed Chicken with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
- Asparagus Sausage Quiche
- Caprese Pasta Salad with Asparagus Pesto
- And a post about eating more green veggies, if you're interested
Lemon Asparagus Pasta
Quick and easy pasta with fresh lemon, asparagus, spaghetti, olive oil and Parmesan cheese.
- Prep Time: 10-15 mins
- Cook Time: 15-20 mins
- Total Time: 25-35 mins
- Yield: Serves 8
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stove-Top
- Cuisine: Italian, American
- 1-pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces on a bias
- 1-pound whole grain spaghetti
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil + more for garnish
- 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- Zest and juice of 2 medium lemons
- Coarse salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 large egg yolks
- ½ cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded + more for garnish
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch asparagus for 2-3 minutes. Remove asparagus with a slotted spoon and shock in a large bowl of ice water. Drain and set aside.
- Add spaghetti to the boiling water and cook according to package directions. Drain spaghetti, reserving about 1 cup pasta water. Set aside.
- In the same pot, heat ¼ cup olive oil to medium-high. Add garlic and sauté 60-90 seconds, until fragrant. Add lemon zest and juice. Add 1 cup pasta water and bring to a simmer for about a minute, allowing it to slightly thicken. Add spaghetti back into the pot and toss with a generous dash of salt and black pepper. Shut off the heat.
- Add egg yolks and toss, using tongs. Add ½ cup Parmesan cheese and continue to toss the pasta, until it forms a creamy sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Add asparagus and toss to combine.
- Distribute pasta into bowls and top with a drizzle of olive oil, Parmesan cheese and freshly cracked black pepper.
Cooking Tip: Add cooked salmon or chicken to make this a complete dish.
- Serving Size: ⅛ of recipe
- Calories: 320
- Sugar: 3g
- Sodium: 162mg
- Fat: 11g
- Saturated Fat: 2g
- Unsaturated Fat: 9g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 45g
- Fiber: 7g
- Protein: 11g
- Cholesterol: 51mg
Keywords: best, cheesy, whole grain, sauce, lemony, easy, healthy, weeknight dinner, quick