Lemony Asparagus Pasta with Mushrooms and Herbed Ricotta

By • April 5, 2013 • 10 Comments


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Author Notes: This pasta has several things going for it: 1) it's a great way to showcase your finest asparagus; 2) it's light and bright from lemon and the herbed ricotta that you swirl into your pasta right before digging in; 3) it's got an unexpected depth of flavor from anchovy and mushrooms; and 4) it's an excuse to open a nice bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for both cooking and drinking purposes. I used Uproot 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, which made a lovely pairing.EmilyC

Serves 4 to 6

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 5 anchovy fillets, finely minced or mashed to a paste
  • 1 large leek cut in half vertically, then sliced into thin crescents (white and light green parts only)
  • 12 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and sliced, single or mixed varieties (I used a mix of cremini, shiitake and oyster)
  • 2 bunches of asparagus (about 1 1/2 pounds), woody ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces on the bias
  • 1/2 cup Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Juice and zest of 2 lemons (reserve 1 tablespoon of juice for the herbed ricotta)
  • 1 pound spaghetti, linguine, or pasta of your choice
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
  • 3/4 cup ricotta, cool or at room temperature (not straight from the fridge)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and anchovy and cook for 1 minute, until the garlic starts to lightly color. Add the leek and mushrooms, and cook (stirring a few times) until they start to soften, about 4 to 6 minutes. Add the asparagus, tossing well to combine. Cook for another minute, then add the Sauvignon Blanc. Let simmer until the asparagus is crisp-tender; the wine should reduce but not cook off. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Turn off heat, and stir in butter and lemon zest. Toss until the butter melts and evenly coats the vegetables. Cover and set aside.
  3. Mix together the ricotta, chopped tarragon, and mint in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to loosen.
  4. When water is at a full boil, cook pasta until it's al dente, reserving about 1 cup of pasta water. Drain the remaining water.
  5. Return the sauté pan to medium-low heat. Add pasta to vegetables, tossing well. Add parmesan and toss again, then add half of the remaining lemon juice. Taste, and add more lemon juice, salt, and pepper as needed. (I like lots of black pepper in this dish, but add to your liking.) Add reserved cooking water, a little at a time, if the pasta seems dry.
  6. At the table, top each plate of pasta with a big dollop of herbed ricotta.

Comments (10) Questions (0)

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2 months ago alexandra

This sounds delicious! I'm going to try it tomorrow-I was planning on making fresh fettucine anyway and it's just gotten warm here, so I think it'll be a perfect 'welcome to spring' dish! Thanks!!

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2 months ago EmilyC

Oh -- this dish should be lovely with fresh fettucine. Hope you enjoy it! Let me know how it turns out.

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2 months ago jkcoop

Wow, as my husband said this is the best vegetarian pasta dish I've ever had. I made it just as the recipe said. Perfection!

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2 months ago EmilyC

What a nice comment -- thank you! So glad you and your husband enjoyed it!

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8 months ago Cathy Mebane

It doesn't say how much ricotta to use unless I'm missing something...

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8 months ago EmilyC

Hi Cathy -- Sorry for the delayed response -- the recipe calls for 3/4 cup of ricotta.

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11 months ago laurajg

I made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious (despite the fact that all I seem to have in my cheese drawer is Parmesan rinds). Definitely will make again.

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11 months ago EmilyC

So glad you liked it -- thank you!

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12 months ago koechin

this was absolutely lovely! had to make some adjustments due to gluten intolerance and husband hating asparagus (i know, go figure).fresh peas actually worked quite well and i had just made some fresh ricotta so that didn't hurt either. my self-proclaimed none-cooking daughter, who is also vegetarian, absolutely loved it and i printed out recipe for her so she can make it with asparagus. thanks for a delicious spring recipe.

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12 months ago EmilyC

This is so lovely to hear, koechin! Thanks so much for trying the recipe and your feedback.