Serves a Crowd

Craig Claiborne's Pasta con Asparagi

May 14, 2013
14 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 8
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

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pinch 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Anita Gibbons-Jones
    Anita Gibbons-Jones
  • Carly Monardo
    Carly Monardo
  • LeslieSpaghetti
  • jilladavis
  • Melissa
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

46 Reviews

NXL March 8, 2021
Unfortunately, I was disappointed with this recipe. I simmered the sauce for the full ten minutes, but it still tasted of canned tomatoes.
Apryl January 13, 2020
Delicious! Tasted so fresh and authentic. I used a can of San Marzano crushed tomatoes instead of stewed and it was super simple and tasted amazing. Maybe made it a little more “tomatoey” but super delicious. Will absolutely make again. Next time I might throw in some red pepper flakes for a bit of a kick...
Chris N. July 31, 2020
Those are not real San Marzano tomatoes. They are never sold crushed.
Anita G. May 22, 2019
Absolutely AWESOME! WOW! Definitely on my list for favourites!
Carly M. June 9, 2018
This was AMAZING. I cooked my asparagus longer because I like it a bit more tender but otherwise followed this to the letter and it’s a new favorite for sure!
LeslieSpaghetti March 3, 2018
Made this last night. Yum Yum!
Used broccoli in place of asparagus and left out the eggs.
jilladavis April 20, 2017
I made this last night. It was wonderful. My modifications:
1. I cooked a pound of mild Italian sausage separately. Folded it in with asparagus.

2. I realized that I had forgotten to buy the plum tomatoes. The only substitute I had on hand was cheap tomato sauce in a jar, the kind I let the kids make pizza with. I was mortified but used it. And guess what? This recipe masked the cheapness of that sauce. I think adding the eggs smooths out whatever sauce you use.

3. Next time, I think I'll add pieces of fresh basil to the sauce at the very end, to add some color.
Melissa May 24, 2016
Great and quick! I did add a couple slices worth of diced bacon, but other than that, didn't make any changes.
leigh F. June 3, 2015
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.
Jim C. April 11, 2015
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.
Nadia S. February 11, 2015
Would adding bacon bits be totally horrible?
KirstenS February 12, 2015
OMG that sounds amazing...
Yeari November 20, 2014
I loved how the eggs made the sauce creamier!
GuysEnPlace August 30, 2014
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.
KirstenS May 10, 2014
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?
samanthaalison May 5, 2014
I definitely liked it, but I didn't think it was quite as "genius" as some other recipes from the series.
ATG117 May 5, 2014
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.
Nancy March 17, 2014
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.
Anusha R. September 17, 2017
My guess is that he's referring to the inclusion of egg in the sauce.
timothy_burks February 14, 2014
Thanks JohnL!

I already have the Olive Oil Cake on deck...and will check out the Edward Giobbi recipe
Maureen January 12, 2014
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.
GourMel January 3, 2014
Anyone else nervous about the raw egg aspect? Are regular commercial eggs ok?
Allison April 30, 2014
No need to worry about using raw eggs...they will cook when added to the warm pasta.
Mom24 July 24, 2013
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.