Craig Claiborne's Pasta con Asparagi

Test Kitchen-Approved

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

Serves: 8
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 25 min


  • 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
In This Recipe


  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.

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Reviews (42) Questions (0)

42 Reviews

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!<br />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:<br />1. I cooked a pound of mild Italian sausage separately. Folded it in with asparagus. <br /><br />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. <br /><br />3. Next time, I think I'll add pieces of fresh basil to the sauce at the very end, to add some color. <br />
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. <br /><br />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!<br /><br />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. <br />
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.
NoToxAmy June 19, 2013
I made this but had to use frozen peas as I didn't have any asparagus handy and it worked just fine. I let the peas thaw and tossed them into the sauce just before adding the egg. Yum!
Ruthie S. June 16, 2013
Ever include nutrition info??
Angelica June 14, 2013
Sounds delish...but anyone know if this can be veganised? I can omit the butter and cheese garnish but what about the egg? Thanks!
Kristen M. June 14, 2013
It won't be creamy, but it will still probably be tasty -- you can add some extra olive oil and/or pasta cooking water to make it saucier.
ktjk August 29, 2016
Olive oil and eggs alone make it pretty damn creamy if you ask me (works for mayo!). Sometimes I just up the number of eggs until I get the consistency just right. I usually increase the salt to make up for the parm.
mmann15 June 2, 2013
Can someone please explain "put through a sieve or grated coarsely" since those would produce different results? What is the preferred texture and amount of the tomatoes and what is the best method for achieving it? Thanks!
timothy_burks June 2, 2013
I've made this several times...push the tomatoes through a sieve...I use a 14.5 oz can of plum tomatoes...turns out perfect
mmann15 June 2, 2013
Thanks! 'Will do.
lunalovegood June 2, 2013
I just measured out 2 cups of whole tomatoes in puree, and then finely chopped each one. I feel like it's a pretty forgiving recipe; you don't have to be too exact.
Jacob M. April 25, 2014
I just pulled the whole tomatoes out of the sauce and diced them, then added everything.
lunalovegood May 30, 2013
This recipe is fantastic- simple, cheap, quick, and delicious.
Rick W. May 28, 2013
very more-ish! I was sceptical that this would work as it had little base ingredients and I'm used to making my pasta sauces with the classic onion, carrot, celery and garlic foundation.<br />However was happily proved wrong as this is a nicely balanced dish with complementing delicate flavours which make the asparagus sing.<br />A great summer dish.<br />One thing I would recommend is sauté the asparagus seperately near the end as mine went cold by the time the sauce and pasta were ready to mix in.
Rae R. May 26, 2013
Wow! One of those delicious food miracles. The sauce complimented the asparagus perfectly. My much used copy of the NYT Cookbook predates this recipe, but like many of Craig Claiborne's recipes it seems timeless.
crazyblues May 16, 2013
really enjoyed this... didn't have asparagus, so I experimented with other vegetables cut in 2 inch lengths. yummy sauce, the eggs a marvel!
jlriddell May 15, 2013
Really enjoyed this. Very luscious without being over rich. Good weeknight meal.
Megan L. May 15, 2013
oops. No worries on the garlic. Thx.
Megan L. May 15, 2013
Are the garlic cloves added whole?
timothy_burks May 15, 2013
I love Craig Claiborne's recipes. They are made to entertain. The man was brilliant, witty and a wonderful host.
JohnL February 14, 2014
Craig was awesome. He loved Edward Giobbi's recipes. If you haven't tried it yet, Edward Giobbi's Spaghetti alla Foriana recipe on this site is something WONDERFUL. I think Craig would also have approved of the Olive Oil Cake recipe that went up recently. I can't keep out of it. And it's dangerously easy to throw together.
Mirta May 5, 2014
Hi John,<br />Which one of the olive oil cakes recently posted?
JohnL May 5, 2014
Mirta, It's Maialino's Olive Oil Cake on this website. It has an orange flavor. I also like Cat Cora's "Olive Oil Cake Ladi Torta" on Food Networks site. It has a little finely chopped almond in the batter and tends more to a lemon flavor. Both are wonderful and wonderfully easy cakes.
Mirta May 12, 2014
Thank you, I have both recipes now. They'll be my first try at olive oil cakes.<br />