Everyday Cooking

Lemony Asparagus Pasta with Mushrooms and Herbed Ricotta

May  6, 2013

Jenny is in perpetual search for easy, weeknight recipes to attempt to feed her family. When they balk, she just eats more.

Today: Every cook's savior: pasta.

Asparagus pasta

Shop the Story

So hey everyone, for three weeks in a row, beginning today, we’re going to talk about asparagus. No lectures on skinny versus fat, white versus green versus purple, and I won’t be getting all up in your face about the commercial kind you may still be buying at Whole Foods until your market has the good stuff in full supply. In D.C. we are just seeing it, and it's good stuff.

Also my husband wants to mention that his mother used canned asparagus. I replied that maybe you guys don’t care about that. He said if I don’t mention it he will troll me the comments. So that happened. 

Anyway, we begin with every weeknight cook’s savior: pasta. I made Lemony Asparagus Pasta with Mushrooms and Herbed Ricotta for four one night, and still had enough for two small portions for dinner the next night, served with a side of merguez. It even tasted sort of better on night two. 

But I am getting ahead of myself.  

A little mise will ameliorate your muss: get your mushrooms, asparagus and leek ready (by the way, a regular onion will do) and get your herbs chopped and at the ready before you get cooking. 

As you know, I advocate getting someone else to do this, or at least to help. This has occurred, like, twice in my house. Barring that, just play music really loudly while you chop. This may lead to your teenage daughter to say, “You know mom I really enjoy hearing you sing Ed Sheeran but that volume is making it really hard for me to concentrate on my science project.” 

This may lead you to ponder why it is that an 8th grader is once again making a pamphlet as a school project, but in any case just grab some headphones. 

You are beginning with anchovies, which conveniently melt into salty goodness with the garlic as you put your pasta water up. You may become overly excited and add a fifth anchovy. That’s fine. In go the mushrooms and leek, and then the asparagus. At this point you can call it a day if you’re in a hurry or lacking wine. Otherwise, move on to the wine, butter and lemon zest. 

You should have your pasta on now, and be mixing your herbs and cheese. I should say my husband is not wild about tarragon, so next time I might just do mint. But it’s all about what you like. 

This bowl of pasta is extremely pretty and very hearty and tasty, and takes only a tad longer to make than your average weeknight stuff. 


Lemoy Asparagus Pasta with Mushrooms and Herbed Ricotta by EmilyC

Serves 4-6

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 each half 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 1.5 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 (1 tablespoon of juice reserved for herbed ricotta)
1 pound spaghetti, linguine or pasta of choice
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon
1 tablespoons finely chopped mint
3/4 cup ricotta, cool or room temperature (not straight from fridge)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Read more:
Maloreddus with Anchovies, Orange and Malvasia
Roast Chicken Breasts with Mushrooms and Artichokes 
Citrus Olive Cous Cous


Listen Now

Join The Sandwich Universe co-hosts (and longtime BFFs) Molly Baz and Declan Bond as they dive deep into beloved, iconic sandwiches.

Listen Now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Elizabeth Kluvers
    Elizabeth Kluvers
  • ChristineB
  • LucyLovesToCook
  • mcs3000
  • EmilyC

Written by: Jestei

The ratio of people to cake is too big.


Elizabeth K. May 27, 2013
How would this taste if I left out the anchovy fillets? I am vegetarian and would love to make this recipe. It would be great to add notes to recipes on the modifications to make it vegetarian. thanks!
EmilyC May 27, 2013
It's absolutely fine to omit the anchovies. Enjoy!
Nancy J. May 27, 2013
Would you add something else in place of anchovy fillets?
EmilyC May 27, 2013
No, I wouldn't. It works well with or without them.
ChristineB May 27, 2013
I'm thinking about making this for a dinner party tonight, but one of my guests loathes mushrooms. Do you have any suggestions of another vegetable I could use instead? I was thinking that artichokes could work well, but I'd love your input!
Jestei May 27, 2013
I would just skip them. The mushrooms add a sort of woody flavor not so much veggie. How about a little extra asparagus?
ChristineB May 27, 2013
Sounds good. Thanks!
LucyLovesToCook May 8, 2013
This looks gorgeous, I love veggie pastas in the summer.
mcs3000 May 7, 2013
Yes, please.
Jestei May 7, 2013
hope u like
EmilyC May 6, 2013
Jenny -- I'm so happy you tried and liked this, thank you. I agree it's almost better on the second day. I like the merguez pairing too -- a nice way to stretch leftovers.
Jestei May 7, 2013
it was so good!
witloof May 6, 2013
We had canned asparagus too! I don't think I ever tasted fresh asparagus until I was a grown up. I grew up in the midwest during the 60's and I don't know if it was even available back then.

My uncle used to call it "asparaguts."
Jestei May 7, 2013
i cant imagine it even tastes like the real stuff? (unlike other canned veggies which can)
Fairmount_market May 6, 2013
I love the combination of asparagus and mushrooms. I made Monkeymom's asparagus and mushrooms with oyster sauce last week, which was delicious, and I'm looking forward to trying this pasta dish too.
Jestei May 7, 2013
I would love to try her dish too