Craig Claiborne's Pasta con Asparagi

By • May 14, 2013 36 Comments

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Author Notes: A mashup of all the best pasta sauces -- tomato, asparagus, and carbonara -- with surprisingly harmonious results. Adapted slightly from The New New York Times Cookbook (Crown, 1979)Genius Recipes

Serves 8

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes, put through a sieve or grated coarsely
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
  • 3/4 pound penne, rigatoni, or other tubular pasta
  • 2 eggs, plus one yolk, beaten well with a fork
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  1. Have all the ingredients for this recipe prepared and ready to cook before beginning. Bring about 3 quarts of water to a boil and have it ready for the pasta.
  2. Cut the asparagus into lengths about 2 inches long. If the stalks are thick, cut them in half or quarter them. Leave the tips in tact. Heat the butter in a large, deep skillet and add the asparagus pieces, salt, and pepper to taste. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until crisp-tender and lightly browned. Transfer the asparagus to a plate and reserve.
  3. In the same pan, add the oil and garlic. Cook until lightly browned and remove and discard garlic. Add the tomatoes, parsley, basil, salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, add the pasta and salt to the water and, when it returns to a boil, cook for about 7 minutes or until tender. Do not overcook.
  5. Just before the pasta is done, turn off the heat under the tomatoes and add the beaten eggs, stirring vigorously so that they blend without curdling. Do not boil the sauce after the eggs are added. (If you are nervous about curdling the eggs, you may temper them in, by stirring a ladleful of the hot tomato sauce into the eggs, then whisking the mixture back into the pan.)
  6. Add the asparagus to the tomato sauce and stir to blend.
  7. Drain the pasta immediately. Add the tomato sauce and asparagus, and toss with half the cheese. Serve piping hot with the remaining cheese on the side.

More Great Recipes: Asparagus|Plums|Pasta|Entrees|Basil

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Comments (36) Questions (0)


3 months ago leigh frat

This was ok. It made too much sauce. Definitely make a pound of pasta. I thought the tomato sauce overwhelmed the asparagus. You couldn't really taste them. It would have been better after you cook them in butter to add some garlic and pasta water.


5 months ago Jim Carmin

I took the easy way out and just added diced plum tomatoes out of the can which worked perfectly . Next time I'm going to add a few capers too.


7 months ago Nadia Spyropoulos

Would adding bacon bits be totally horrible?


7 months ago KirstenS

OMG that sounds amazing...


9 months ago Yeari

I loved how the eggs made the sauce creamier!


12 months ago GuysEnPlace

Easily the best pasta I've ever had/made. I usually keep the garlic in the sauce when I make it because I'm a big garlic person.


over 1 year ago KirstenS

OMG I've been saving this recipe since last spring and it was the bomb. The eggs give it a richness that put it over the top.

One question: the tomatoes didn't really pass thru a sieve; it liquidied them. What should the texture of the tomatoes ultimately be?


over 1 year ago samanthaalison

I definitely liked it, but I didn't think it was quite as "genius" as some other recipes from the series.


over 1 year ago ATG117

Made this and loved that it gave me a new, simple pasta technique to add to my arsenal. I may give it a squeeze of lemon juice or maybe just some zest next time.


over 1 year ago Nancy

The author states it's a mashup of tomato, asparagus and carbonara. I've read thru recipe and all comments, where's the carbonara? I made this exactly as called for and also made roasted veges on side. Pasta was good, but when I added my roasted peppers, onions, fennel, & mushrooms, it really took it up a notch. Wondering if pancetta was supposed to be in this dish?.. it needed something in my opinion.


over 1 year ago timothy_burks

Thanks JohnL!

I already have the Olive Oil Cake on deck...and will check out the Edward Giobbi recipe


over 1 year ago Maureen

This may be the best pasta recipe ever. I followed the recipe except for doubling the amount of garlic and added rotisserie chicken for protein. This was as good as any pasta I've eaten in a good Italian restaurant.


over 1 year ago Gourmel

Anyone else nervous about the raw egg aspect? Are regular commercial eggs ok?


over 1 year ago Allison

No need to worry about using raw eggs...they will cook when added to the warm pasta.


about 2 years ago Mom24

This sounded, and looked, delicious. I was so disappointed. It needed something acidic to brighten the flavor. The asparagus was absolutely delicious, until I added it into everything. I think I may try it again and leave out the eggs, as soon as I added them everything just seem to dull.


about 2 years ago NoToxAmy

I made this but had to use frozen peas as I didn't have any asparagus handy and it worked just fine. I let the peas thaw and tossed them into the sauce just before adding the egg. Yum!


about 2 years ago Ruthie Selch

Ever include nutrition info??


about 2 years ago Angelica

Sounds delish...but anyone know if this can be veganised? I can omit the butter and cheese garnish but what about the egg? Thanks!


about 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

It won't be creamy, but it will still probably be tasty -- you can add some extra olive oil and/or pasta cooking water to make it saucier.


about 2 years ago mmann15

Can someone please explain "put through a sieve or grated coarsely" since those would produce different results? What is the preferred texture and amount of the tomatoes and what is the best method for achieving it? Thanks!


about 2 years ago timothy_burks

I've made this several times...push the tomatoes through a sieve...I use a 14.5 oz can of plum tomatoes...turns out perfect


about 2 years ago mmann15

Thanks! 'Will do.


about 2 years ago lunalovegood

I just measured out 2 cups of whole tomatoes in puree, and then finely chopped each one. I feel like it's a pretty forgiving recipe; you don't have to be too exact.


over 1 year ago Jacob McDonald

I just pulled the whole tomatoes out of the sauce and diced them, then added everything.


about 2 years ago lunalovegood

This recipe is fantastic- simple, cheap, quick, and delicious.


over 2 years ago Rick Waites

very more-ish! I was sceptical that this would work as it had little base ingredients and I'm used to making my pasta sauces with the classic onion, carrot, celery and garlic foundation.
However was happily proved wrong as this is a nicely balanced dish with complementing delicate flavours which make the asparagus sing.
A great summer dish.
One thing I would recommend is sauté the asparagus seperately near the end as mine went cold by the time the sauce and pasta were ready to mix in.


over 2 years ago Rae Rondeau Weeks

Wow! One of those delicious food miracles. The sauce complimented the asparagus perfectly. My much used copy of the NYT Cookbook predates this recipe, but like many of Craig Claiborne's recipes it seems timeless.