Creamy Asparagus, Lemon, and Walnut Pasta

By • May 6, 2014 • 27 Comments

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Author Notes: After making and photographing my recipe for pasta with creamy walnut sauce (another contestant in the contest), I was hungry for dinner. I opened my semi-bare fridge and threw together this dish. It was so delicious, I decided to submit this recipe as well!Flirty Foodie

Food52 Review: This is a perfect Sunday evening supper for spring, and makes the most of seasonal asparagus. The lemon keeps things fresh and zesty, while the walnuts contribute the “crunch” factor. The dish takes a mere 15 minutes to make, so you have no excuse not to! It’s so delicious, you’ll want to double the recipe so you have leftovers.Amelia G

Serves 2

  • 7 ounces dried spaghetti (or pasta of your choice)
  • 1 pound asparagus spears
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a strong boil. Season with salt, then add pasta. Cook according to package directions for "al dente." Set aside about 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.
  2. While water is coming to a boil, cut off and discard the tough ends of the asparagus. Cut the remainder into 1/3-inch rounds, leaving the tips intact. Heat olive oil and garlic in a large pan over medium heat for five minutes. Add asparagus, salt, pepper, and 1/3 cup of the reserved pasta water. Cover pan and cook asparagus for 4 to 8 minutes, until tender to the bite. Turn off heat and discard garlic.
  3. Once pasta is finished, purée 1/3 of the cooked asparagus and 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water in a food processor, blender, or immersion blender until smooth. Try to avoid blending the asparagus tips, for aesthetic reasons.
  4. Add puréed asparagus back to pan, along with sliced asparagus. Mix in cooked pasta, lemon zest, and more pasta water as needed to keep the sauce loose. Heat on low for a minute or two to allow pasta to absorb some of the sauce. Serve immediately, topped with chopped walnuts.
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Comments (27) Questions (0)

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4 months ago Audrey McBride

has anyone ever tried this recipe with spaghetti squash?

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4 months ago EllenFWilliams

Can you prepare everything but the pasta ahead of time?

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4 months ago Flirty Foodie

I don't see why not. Maybe you can make a thicker sauce, or just use normal water instead of the pasta water.

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5 months ago cholula

I have made a similar recipe for years. I got the idea for seeing a favorite recipe of Danny Kay, the comedian. Only that recipe uses broccoli instead of asparagus. Today I made another version with what I had in the fridge and it was super. I used broccolini. First I carmelized half an onion in butter (had no garlic, what?!) while the broccolini was boiling in the pot for the future spaghetti. Then I added the blanched broccolini to the carmelized onion and the cooked pasta along with juice of a lemon and red pepper flakes. While the pasta was still hot, I thinly sliced string cheese (mozzarella) and added that to the pasta along with the toasted walnuts. It turned out surprisingly very tasty.

Stringio

5 months ago Lorraina Raccuia-Morrison

Delicious!

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5 months ago Flirty Foodie

Thanks Lorraina!

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5 months ago Transcendancing

This was a great recipe, I made it for a dinner party tonight. I had a much greener sauce than in the picture, but I pureed more than 1/3 of the asparagus mixture. I made it for six and wasn't sure I had enough asparagus, so I added some peas as well. I loved the creaminess of the dish especially without the dairy added - though I cheated a little and added some butter to the pot when the asparagus was cooking. I also finished it off with some parmesan which went very well. I used the zest of two lemons in my efforts to expand the recipe and that went well too. The texture of the pasta with the asparagus spears, rounds and peas I saved with the lemon zest and walnuts was fantastic and I'll definitely do this again! My housemate who loves asparagus declared this a definite win. Will definitely do this as a proper vegan version for friends where this will be welcome, thanks so much!

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5 months ago Flirty Foodie

Hi Transcendancing. I'm ever so happy to hear that this recipe turned out well for you. Even though I realize that the recipe for two is small for most. At the moment there is just two of us in my household and besides I always think it's easier to multiply by two or three, than to divide by the same amounts. But that could just be me... I also love the peas and asparagus combo. Great way to make the recipe your own!

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5 months ago Transcendancing

I definitely found it easy enough to expand for the number of people for dinner - I found it to be a very flexible recipe.

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6 months ago Barb

I really like the technique of pureeing the asparagus as a basis for the sauce. I did think it needed a little jazzing up though, I added some parmesan, basil, and crushed red pepper and I could have used more of all of those.

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6 months ago Steph

This is a great simple, spring recipe. I added the juice of half a lemon to the asparagus while it was sauteeing instead of the pasta water--it kept the garlic from burning and allowed the lemony flavor to fully soak into the asparagus. Thanks for sharing!

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6 months ago 4skiski

I puréed half the asparagus with half a cup of warm cream and a tablespoon of melted butter. Definitely not vegan ;) but being pregnant I have been craving creamy pasta sauces. Finished it with some freshly shaved parm and toasted pine nuts. It did not disappoint! Will be trying the creamless version when the baby weight needs to come off!

Stringio

6 months ago Susan Trosper

I just made and happily consumed your version of the recipe and it was delicious! Even the carnivore hubs was happy! We topped it with minced chives (as I had no lemons!) for a nice finish.

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6 months ago Flirty Foodie

I'm really glad you and the carnivore hubs liked it!

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6 months ago Flirty Foodie

4skiski, I was laughing so hard when I read your comment. Maybe I too will be that too when pregnant too. And Congrats!!!

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6 months ago Horto

yeah, makes you just want to through a little cream or creme fraiche in....creamy did catch my attention!

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6 months ago Flirty Foodie

lol. I'm trying to eat 2-3 vegan meals per week. For me this was a guilt free compromise free option. But if you want to add cream please do so. I think it would taste really good.

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6 months ago jedi

this was very good-light, but satisfying. I took a tip from another comment and added some mint and basil to the puree, and also added some lemon juice which was delicious. also, topped with some grated parm (so, not vegan for me).

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6 months ago Flirty Foodie

grated parm really should count as vegan... ;-)

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6 months ago vrunka

loved this! simple and delicious. And quick, too! I added some fresh mint at the end which made it very bright and springy.

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6 months ago Flirty Foodie

Love that you added mint! I think recipes should be just that, a starting point on which you can add your own personal twist

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6 months ago Katie

This was delicious. The ultimate taste of spring: clean, bright and simple. Can't beat the colour, too.

Only change I made was to add the garlic clove and a handful of basil to the blended ingredients.

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6 months ago Flirty Foodie

Hi Katie! So glad you liked it. The blended garlic and basil sound like great additions.

Stringio

6 months ago Bonny

Nice idea. Not enough flavor for my taste. Nothing stands out to make this special.
Good not great.

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6 months ago Flirty Foodie

Hi Bonny, being of Trinidadian origin I grew up on bold flavors like curries (that simmered in coconut milk) and meats that marinated in herbs and spices for hours if not overnight.

Now that I have spent several years living in Northern Italy, I've come to appreciate more simple uncomplicated flavors as well. Those were the individual beauty of quality natural ingredients shine through, like the asparagus in this dish.

Or as I tell my Italian friends that complain that they don't like cilantro, cumin, spicy things in general...

Food is a Matter of Taste.

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6 months ago I_Fortuna

Creamy suggests that cream is used in the recipe but I did not see it on the list of ingredients. I also like my pasta al dente so I don't think it will absorb much of the sauce. Nice recipe though, looks good.

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6 months ago Flirty Foodie

Hi "I Fortuna", You're right no cream involved. In fact, I thought about adding vegan to the title to emphasize that... Ultimately decided to keep the word "creamy" to emphasize the added smoothness from the blended asparagus. I hope you enjoy.