- Amanda

I love lemony spaghetti as much as I love asparagus, so I thought I'd combine these two flavors in this dead-simple pasta. No blanching is necessary for the asparagus -- you just sauté it in olive oil while the spaghetti cooks. Toss in garlic and lemon zest, and reiterate the lemon flavor later on by sprinkling in the juice once the spaghetti is in there. Grate some cheese, dollop on some ricotta, and a vibrant and grassy dinner is yours.

Shop the Story

Lemony Pasta with Asparagus

Serves 2

  • Sea salt
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon (Meyer, if possible)
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Juice of 1 lemon (Meyer, if possible)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese, for serving
  • 4 tablespoons fresh ricotta


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut the asparagus where the tip and stem meet. Cut the stems into 1/2-inch pieces.

2. Warm the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, until softened on the edges. Add the asparagus and season with salt. Cook, stirring to turn and distribute the asparagus, until crisp-tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest. Remove from the burner.

3. When the water comes to a boil, add the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Scoop out about 1/3 cup pasta water, and set aside. Drain the spaghetti and add it to the asparagus along with the butter. Place over medium heat. Use tongs to toss and melt the butter. Add half the lemon juice and toss again. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more lemon juice and salt if needed. If the spaghetti is dry, fold in some of the pasta water.

4. Divide among 2 plates. Season with pepper. Sprinkle with parmesan. Drop 2 tablespoonfuls of ricotta on top of each. Devour.

Order now

A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

Order now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Michele K Parthum
    Michele K Parthum
  • Henk&Jetske
  • NakedBeet
  • drbabs
  • amysarah
Food52 (we cook 52 weeks a year, get it?) is a food and home brand, here to help you eat thoughtfully and live joyfully.


Michele K. March 31, 2010
I made this last night. It was wonderful. I served it with a salad of Provencal roasted tomatoes and simple balsamic and olive oil dressing. It was a perfect spring dinner out west.

Hope the weather improves in the east.

Amanda H. March 31, 2010
Thanks for trying it out!
Henk&Jetske March 28, 2010
Very delicate. We ate it with a rare baked piece of salmon and a crisp sauvignon. Thank you for posting.
Amanda H. March 28, 2010
Great menu -- and thanks for trying it out.
NakedBeet March 27, 2010
Love the simplicity and bright flavors and I'm looking forward to making it part of a weeknight meal.
drbabs March 26, 2010
Dumb question: in step 2, are you warming the oil in the saute pan?
Amanda H. March 26, 2010
Not dumb -- my mistake, and just fixed it! You're supposed to warm the oil in the pan.
amysarah March 26, 2010
This recipe is pretty much my idea of a perfect spring dinner. Served in a smaller portion, alongside a simple piece of grilled or roast salmon would be great too. For the brief period they're available, you could also substitute fiddlehead ferns for the asparagus - they'd be delicious with the other ingredients in this recipe.
Amanda H. March 26, 2010
Great ideas. And yes, I agree, it's best as a first course or light main.
Cara E. March 26, 2010
This sounds so delicious. It's simple, and yet one notch more elegant than anything I'd think to make!
Amanda H. March 26, 2010
mrslarkin March 26, 2010
Yum! Might go nicely with my lemon chicken. I'll make this next week. Thanks, A!
Amanda H. March 26, 2010
I like that -- doubling up on lemon.