Springtime Asparagus Pasta

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When I saw the original recipe for this dish in my current issue of Sunset, I immediately tore it out and planned on making it, pronto. After a closer look at the nutritional data, I was floored by the high calorie count and puzzled by the promised 4 servings from only 8 ounces of dried pasta. My usual guide for pasta is 4 ounces per person for an entrée portion.

Scrolling through the ingredient list, I found the culprit: “1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream”. Guess what? I made this without a drop of cream and got the thumbs up from Larry, who gave his stamp of approval with the same phrase he always uses when he likes a new dish, “Don’t lose this recipe!”

I doubled the oil and added some butter, used leeks instead of onion because they felt more like “springtime”. I halved the amount of prosciutto to watch the salt level and added lemon zest to make the flavors pop. Chili flakes are served on the side at our house, since Larry chokes on peppery accents. I always add cooked pasta to the sauce while it is still on the stove, so I played a bit with the method outlined in the original recipe and came up with my Springtime Asparagus Pasta.

TIP: Break the pasta in half before cooking it. Your guests will thank you for keeping slurping at a minimum.

Serves 2, generously

  • water for pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 leeks, white and light green portions, washed and sliced horizontally
  • 2 cups Crimini or button mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced and cut into strips
  • 1 pound asparagus, washed, trimmed and peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces angel hair or other thin pasta
  • zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • kosher salt and/or ground pepper
  • red chili flakes
  • grated parmesan cheese (optional garnish)

1. Heat water for pasta in a large covered pot.

2. Using a large skillet, heat the oil and butter. Add the leeks and mushrooms. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes over medium-high heat.

3. Lower the heat to medium, add the garlic, prosciutto and asparagus. Cook, stirring, until asparagus is just tender, about 5 minutes.

4. While the asparagus is cooking, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. Drain pasta and add to asparagus mixture.

5. Add the lemon zest, parmesan, salt and/or pepper. Stir and cook over medium-low heat for 2 minutes.

6. Turn onto a warmed platter, garnish with additional parmesan and/or red chili flakes and serve.

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20 Responses to Springtime Asparagus Pasta

  1. TasteFood March 22, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    This is so bright and pretty; I love your adaptations. Perfect spring fare.

  2. omgyummy March 22, 2012 at 7:59 am #

    Liz – I love the colors in the photo – it almost made me believe it’s spring! I also love your changes to the recipe – we stay away from anything with that much heavy cream both because of the fat and calories and the lactose. But who needs it anyway!

    • lizthechef March 22, 2012 at 8:05 am #

      We truly did not miss it – I think the cream would have overwhelmed the dish.

  3. apuginthekitchen March 22, 2012 at 8:05 am #

    Love your lighter fresher version, it’s a beautiful dish and stunning photo!

    • lizthechef March 22, 2012 at 9:07 am #

      Thanks, I think I will be playing with the ingredients into the summer – such a quick dish.

  4. Sunchowder - Wendy Read March 22, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    Oh Liz! The photo is gorgeous 🙂 I really enjoy asparagus, I usually make it with eggs and parm, this looks really good. Thanks for your inspiration.

    • lizthechef March 22, 2012 at 9:08 am #

      Thanks, Wendy, I really enjoyed your post on the Edible weekend – and your photos.

  5. Kim March 22, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    These days, recipes for me are more like “guides” to making a specific dish. I can’t remember the last one I followed a savory recipe to the letter. (Baking is a different story.)

    Kudos to you for making the changes that work for you and Larry!


    • lizthechef March 22, 2012 at 9:06 am #

      Kim, I never even mentioned the cream to Larry – tricky, yes?

  6. Carol Sacks March 22, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    I’m going to try this as soon as possible. I love the mix of flavors and colors. Nice job!

    • lizthechef March 22, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

      Thank you, Carol, and hope our paths cross again soon – welcome home…

  7. Oui, Chef March 22, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    This is the kind of dish I live for. I can’t wait for our local asparagus to arrive so I can make me a BIG pot!

    • lizthechef March 22, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

      I will bet your take will only improve on the recipe…

  8. The Wimpy Vegetarian March 22, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    This looks just lovely, and I definitely vote for your improvements. Heavy cream isn’t needed at all. Love the way the green placements make the green asparagus really pop out!

  9. Jayne March 23, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    Lovely picture! This sounds great, indeed very Spring like! Asparagus season is about to start here!

    • lizthechef March 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

      Thanks, Jayne, I could eat asparagus every day – my favorite vegetable, I think.

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