Serves a Crowd

Lemony Asparagus Pasta with Mushrooms & Herbed Ricotta

April  5, 2013
1 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
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

What You'll Need
  • 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), washed well to remove any hidden dirt
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Park Ranger
    Park Ranger
  • Mary Lee
    Mary Lee
  • Grammymem
  • alexandra
  • jkcoop

Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

22 Reviews

Beverly March 23, 2015
If making this for a true vegetarian, what could you substitute for the anchovies?
Mary L. March 23, 2015
I don't think I used the anchovies at all when I made this last spring. Soon that asparagus will be coming up again - halleluiah! Another thought I've had is to use a bit of fish sauce rather than anchovies - but doubt this would be vegan either...
EmilyC March 24, 2015
This pasta is good with or without the anchovies -- no need to substitute anything for the anchovies if making this for a vegetarian!
Park R. June 29, 2014
It's an unusually warm day here at 9,000 feet in the Rockies and this pasta dish was absolutely perfect for an early Sunday meal. We coupled with homemade lemon infused vodka and ginger lemonade. Holy toldeldo Klinger! My only regret is not including some trout we caught yesterday (all the trout went into the smoker).

I'll be following EmilyC's recipes from now on.
Park R. June 29, 2014
I wish we had the ability to edit our comments. I should have mentioned one small deviation to EmilyC's recipe. I used "Texas tarragon" because it's easier to grow up here during the dry summer months. In my opinion, Texas has a stronger taste compared to French, but isn't that always the case? ;-)
EmilyC June 30, 2014
Thanks for the lovely note, Park Ranger. So happy to hear that you enjoyed the dish. And interesting about Texas tarragon. I love tarragon and plant it every summer. I'll have to be on the lookout for that variety!
Mary L. May 1, 2014
Wow! Made this tonight with the fat purple asparagus from our garden and the tiny grey morels that have just started popping up. Fantastic. What's so good is that it's a nice light pasta dish, but add in the "ricotta" (mine was whipped cottage cheese) dollop and it makes it a luxurious, rich, dish.
EmilyC May 2, 2014
I can't imagine how good this must be with freshly picked asparagus and morels! And I agree about the ricotta -- it's nice that everyone can add as much or little as they like, and it does add such a nice richness and body to the finished dish. Thanks so much for your note, Mary Lee!
sonofwilliam April 28, 2014
Just one word: wow! This is by far one of the best vegetarian dishes I've ever had the pleasure of making. So rich and lots of layers of flavours. And that tarragon is a star in this dish next to the asparagus and lemon! Had it with some crispy skinned salmon, which worked together oh so great. Gonna make this my go to vegetarian dish ;) Thank you Emily!
EmilyC April 29, 2014
Thrilled to hear this, sonofwilliam! I'll bet the salmon was a fabulous pairing. So glad you liked the dish, and thanks for reporting back!
Grammymem April 23, 2014
Made this tonight Had to make a couple of adjustments because I didn't have a leek (I used a combination of onion and shallot) or fresh tarragon and mint (used dried - 1 tsp. per tablespoon in recipe). I also don't drink so I just used water -- and it was still FABULOUS!
EmilyC April 25, 2014
Wonderful to hear! Good to know about your tweaks too. Thanks so much for trying it and circling back!
alexandra February 18, 2014
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!!
EmilyC February 19, 2014
Oh -- this dish should be lovely with fresh fettucine. Hope you enjoy it! Let me know how it turns out.
jkcoop February 13, 2014
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!
EmilyC February 14, 2014
What a nice comment -- thank you! So glad you and your husband enjoyed it!
Cathy M. August 16, 2013
It doesn't say how much ricotta to use unless I'm missing something...
EmilyC August 21, 2013
Hi Cathy -- Sorry for the delayed response -- the recipe calls for 3/4 cup of ricotta.
laurajg June 3, 2013
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.
EmilyC June 3, 2013
So glad you liked it -- thank you!
koechin May 8, 2013
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.
EmilyC May 10, 2013
This is so lovely to hear, koechin! Thanks so much for trying the recipe and your feedback.