Pasta with Asparagus-Lemon Sauce

Total Time:
35 min
Prep:
15 min
Cook:
20 min

Yield:
4 servings
Level:
Easy

Ingredients
  • 1 pound fresh, medium thickness asparagus, tough ends trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound penne, malfade, or preferred shape
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Directions
  • Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces; reserve tips separately. Cook asparagus stems in 5 to 6 quarts boiling water with 2 tablespoons salt until very tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a colander, reserving cooking water in pot, and rinse under cold water. Drain asparagus well and transfer to a food processor or blender.

  • Cook asparagus tips in same boiling water until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer with slotted spoon to colander, reserving boiling water in pot, and rinse under cold water. Drain tips well.

  • Puree asparagus stems with zest, oil, and 1/2 cup asparagus cooking water. Transfer sauce to a 4-quart saucepan.

  • Cook pasta in boiling asparagus cooking water for about three-fourths of the recommended cooking time (very al dente). Reserve 2 cups cooking water and drain pasta.

  • Add pasta, asparagus tips, and 1/2 cup reserved water to asparagus sauce and cook over high heat, stirring, 3 to 5 minutes, or until pasta is almost al dente and sauce coats pasta. Add more cooking water, 1/4 cup at a time, until sauce coats pasta but is a little loose (the cheese will thicken it slightly).

  • Stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano and salt and pepper, to taste and cook, stirring, until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.


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