Pasta with Lemon and Asparagus

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This pasta with lemon and asparagus recipe is easy and simple to make. In just less than 25 minutes this pasta recipe will be ready to serve.

pasta with lemon and asparagus

Many years ago I was inspired to create this Italian recipe after reading through some magazines looking for some ideas for a light pasta dish that didn’t use tomatoes.

Pasta with Lemon and Asparagus

This is a delightful recipe perfect for spring and summer when the lemon and asparagus are in season. It uses butter instead of olive oil, similar to my zucchini with garlic and butter recipe. The butter adds a rich smoothness which gently coats the pasta.

This entire recipe is very simple. And I’ve made it so it can also be very flexible with the lemon and asparagus which aren’t always available during off-season months.

For example, you can use frozen asparagus instead of fresh. I also mention how to substitute lemon juice if you don’t have lemon zest available.

Ingredients

This recipe boils down to two main components, the pasta and the sauce.

Let’s talk about the sauce first. There are many types of a white or alfredo sauce. Some use lots of butter and some use wine. My sauce however uses just a few ingredients letting the simplicity of the flavors do their magic.

The sauce consists of:

  • Milk
  • Romano or Parmesan Cheese
  • Butter
  • Lemon zest of half a lemon (suggestions for using lemon juice/concentrate are below)
  • A little flour or cornstarch to thicken up just a bit
  • Dash of pepper
  • 1 lb of linguini or other long pasta

How to Make Pasta with Asparagus and Lemon

The beauty of making this pasta recipe is that by the time you have the linguini ready, your asparagus and lemon sauce should be ready too. Here are the instructions.

boil the linguine pasta

Start by boiling the pasta in a large sauce pan. This should take about 9 to 10 minutes. Follow the instructions on your pasta box since different long pasta types have different cooking times.

melt the butter

While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat.

add lemon zest pepper and cornstarch to milk

In a separate bowl add 3/4 Cup of milk, along with 1/4 tsp cornstarch, dash of pepper and zest of half a lemon. Stir well.

dd milk mixture to butter sauce

Add the milk mixture into the sauce pan with the melted butter and stir well.

add cheese to butter lemon sauce

Add a 1/4 cup of Romano cheese (or Parmesan) to the butter sauce. As the temperature rises, the cornstarch will help thicken the sauce as it cooks down slightly.

This will create your lemon alfredo sauce.

Keep the heat at medium.

add asparagus

Add the chopped asparagus to the lemon sauce. Stir and let cook for about 8 minutes or until the asparagus is fully cooked through as seen below.

cook asparagus in the sauce

Once your asparagus is cooked through and very tender, your pasta should be done cooking and ready to be added to lemon sauce mixture.

add pasta to sauce

Simply transfer the pasta directly into the frying pan using a pair of tongs.

coat pasta fully with lemon asparagus sauce

Add all the pasta and gently coat it with the lemon and asparagus sauce. Lower the heat to low to keep warm.

You are now ready to serve your dish!

About the Lemon Asparagus Sauce

This alfredo sauce is not a soupy sauce. It is to coat the pasta only, not make the pasta swim in it! Too much of this sauce will overpower the dish completely.

The sauce is light and matches the delicacy of the lemon and asparagus. 😀

Lemon Zest Brings this Pasta Dish to Life

Knowing that asparagus and lemon go excellently together, I thought I’d try adding some zest into the sauce along with chopped asparagus – making it a great accompaniment to the pasta.

If you are concerned that the lemon will turn this into a tangy lemon based sauce, don’t worry, it doesn’t.  The zest does not overpower the dish, but instead adds a hint of brightness leaving you uplifted and satisfied.

Using Lemon Juice as an Alternative to the Lemon Zest

Okay, so we don’t always have fresh lemons ready to be used for their zest. In this case, yes you can substitute some lemon juice from concentrate by adding about two teaspoons of it to the alfredo sauce.

Lemon juice can cause milk to curdle so add it slowly while stirring. If it does separate, just give it a stir.

Remember we only want a hint of the lemon anyway. Adjust quantities as needed or to taste.

What Type of Pasta Should be Used

use linguini or other thicker pasta

Since this recipe uses a creamy white sauce, I recommend using a thicker pasta, whether it’s long or short. Avoid the thin varieties such as angel hair, vermicelli, etc.

Suitable pastas include linguini, fettuccini, penne, farfalle. Avoid overly large pasta such as rotini.

If you’re using homemade pasta, remember that the cooking time will be shorter.

Fresh or Frozen Asparagus Can be Used

frozen asparagus
This is the frozen asparagus I used and it turned out fantastic!

You can use either frozen or fresh asparagus. I will often use a bag of frozen asparagus spears because I don’t grow fresh asparagus and it’s so expensive in the stores.

Fresh asparagus cooks very quickly, so if you want to use fresh asparagus simply simmer it over medium heat in a frying pan with some water until it can be easily pierced with a fork.

Alternatively you can cook it in with the lemon sauce mixture while the pasta is cooking.

What Goes with Pasta with Lemon and Asparagus

In regards to what side dishes pair well with pasta, lemon and asparagus, think of refreshing and satisfying fresh vegetables and fruits.

Serve with some fresh Italian bread, a salad, and some mixed olives in a bowl. You can also serve this recipe with some caprese mozzarella and tomato skewers which are great for picnics and get togethers.

Fried eggplant is another side dish which would go great with this pasta recipe.

For dessert a bright ice cream, sherbert or gelato is always a winner along with a nice cup of hot espresso.  If you’re not in the mood for anything like that, slice up some fresh apples and enjoy.

How to Store Leftovers

how to store pasta with lemon and asparagus
Nothing fancy, but this is how I stored my pasta, asparagus and lemon dish.

Like any pasta recipe, knowing how long to store spaghetti in the refrigerator,or other long pasta can be the difference between tomorrow’s lunch or the kitchen disposal.

To avoid arriving at the popular quote, “when in doubt, toss it out”, use up any leftovers within three days. Since this involves dairy, the FDA suggests only 3 days in the fridge as I discuss in my post, how long is pasta salad good for in the fridge. The guidelines are the same for this pasta with lemon and asparagus recipe.

You can also freeze the leftovers, just make sure it is very tightly sealed in an air-tight bag or container with minimal air. I don’t recommend this but it can be done. Don’t store in the freezer longer than 6 months.

Similar Pasta Recipes You May Enjoy

If you enjoy this type of pasta recipe, you may really like these too!

pasta with cauliflower recipe

Try this pasta with cauliflower recipe that is easy and delicious. Will go great with linguini or other long pasta.

pasta and peas recipe

Have you ever tried pasta with peas? If not, this is super easy and amust!

pasta with asparagus and peas

Try this pasta with asparagus and peas. It’s delicious!

This pasta with lemon and asparagus is such an easy recipe to make. I hope you try and let me know how you like it!

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pasta with asparagus and lemon

Pasta with Lemon and Asparagus

Delightful pasta dish with asparagus and lemon sauce
5 from 2 votes
Print Rate
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb linguini or other thick pasta
  • 2 TBLE butter
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp corn starch
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1 cup asparagus stalks trimmed and cut into 1 in. pieces frozen or fresh is fine
  • zest 1/2 lemon

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the linguini. Cook for approximately 9 minutes or until done to your preference. If done before your sauce is ready, drain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, in a large frying pan melt the butter over medium heat.
  • In a separate bowl mix the milk, corn starch, pepper and lemon zest.  Mix well so there is no clumping.
  • Add the milk mixture to the melted butter in the pan, using a whisk as you pour it in.
  • Stir frequently over medium heat, and add the cheese. Stir until melted.
  • Take your chopped asparagus and add to the sauce and cook.  I used frozen organic asparagus from the store and they cooked right in the sauce. 
  • Once the pasta is done, transfer pasta using tongs to the sauce adding any extra pasta water if it appears too dry.   Always keep some pasta water off to the side.
  • Toss pasta with sauce until coated and serve immediately.

Notes

  • Using Frozen or fresh asparagus will work with this recipe.
  • If you don’t have fresh lemon for zest, use lemon juice. 
  • If the sauce appears to have curdled a bit, this is normal and expected.

original post 2012. Last updated 2/16/2023.

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8 Comments

  1. Hi Liz,
    Thank you for the recipes in this month’s newsletter. A very happy Easter to you and all of your family and thank you for all of your lovely recipes and videos. Good luck. Best wishes from Ann in Victor Harbor, South Australia.

  2. Ciao Alberto,

    Thank you for stopping by. Your English is better than my Italian so no worries! I will stop by your blog and check out your recipes. It is always good to find websites that show true Italian recipes straight from the heart of Italy!

    Best of luck with your site, and feel free to stop by anytime.

    Liz

  3. 5 stars
    Delicious as is. Really does NOT need anything else.
    Decided to take it over the top it was already at with trying Pancetta one night and another night with Guanciale.
    Incredibly delicious and wound up finishing the whole bottle of wine with it!
    Its going to happen again, again, again, again.

  4. 5 stars
    This pasta with lemon and asparagus was absolutely delicious! It didn’t last long. It’s one of my favorites…..now to the Easter desserts!!!

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