Creamy Asparagus, Lemon, and Walnut Pasta

May  6, 2014
20 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

After making and photographing my recipe for pasta with creamy walnut sauce (another contestant in the contest), I was hungry for dinner. I opened my semi-bare fridge and threw together this dish. It was so delicious, I decided to submit this recipe as well! —Flirty Foodie

Test Kitchen Notes

This is a perfect Sunday evening supper for spring, and makes the most of seasonal asparagus. The lemon keeps things fresh and zesty, while the walnuts contribute the “crunch” factor. The dish takes a mere 15 minutes to make, so you have no excuse not to! It’s so delicious, you’ll want to double the recipe so you have leftovers. —Amelia G

What You'll Need
  • 7 ounces dried spaghetti (or pasta of your choice)
  • 1 pound asparagus spears
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a strong boil. Season with salt, then add pasta. Cook according to package directions for "al dente." Set aside about 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.
  2. While water is coming to a boil, cut off and discard the tough ends of the asparagus. Cut the remainder into 1/3-inch rounds, leaving the tips intact. Heat olive oil and garlic in a large pan over medium heat for five minutes. Add asparagus, salt, pepper, and 1/3 cup of the reserved pasta water. Cover pan and cook asparagus for 4 to 8 minutes, until tender to the bite. Turn off heat and discard garlic.
  3. Once pasta is finished, purée 1/3 of the cooked asparagus and 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water in a food processor, blender, or immersion blender until smooth. Try to avoid blending the asparagus tips, for aesthetic reasons.
  4. Add puréed asparagus back to pan, along with sliced asparagus. Mix in cooked pasta, lemon zest, and more pasta water as needed to keep the sauce loose. Heat on low for a minute or two to allow pasta to absorb some of the sauce. Serve immediately, topped with chopped walnuts.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • panania
  • Leil
  • Elizabeth Mirzaei
    Elizabeth Mirzaei
  • Adrienne Lopata
    Adrienne Lopata
  • Amy Melton
    Amy Melton

51 Reviews

Marlene L. April 29, 2023
Very good! I did like some other folks and puréed the garlic with the asparagus, and served with a little Parmesan cheese garnish in addition to the nuts. Good call on both. Note: The portions would have been way too large if we made just 2 servings as suggested; it’s really 3 or 4.

We also had an entire zested lemon, so I did the mise en place then we had whisky sours at cocktail time before dinner :-)

panania May 30, 2022
This was good, and now that fresh asparagus are available its the perfect time for it. But it's a bit arduous. I made it twice and the second time skipped the emulsion skip. It wasn't as creamy, but the flavor was still there. BTW, you definitely do need a full pound of asparagus. It sounds like a like but it works.
jaimeleigh May 24, 2022
I really enjoyed this! I made a few tweaks after reading some comments. Nothing crazy. I added crushed red pepper flakes and puréed the garlic with the asparagus. I wanted to use up a lingering piece of parmsean so I grated in about 10g. I don’t think it needed it but it doesn’t hurt. If you’re vegan you won’t miss it. I also tossed in some fresh parsley at the end, because why not.

I would definitely make this again.
Leil July 24, 2021
This was quite good.
Tricia D. March 26, 2021
This was a hit! I smashed the garlic cloves and simmered them in the olive oil with strips of prosciutto and a dash of red pepper flakes. I also added the garlic clove about half of the chopped walnuts when I puréed the asparagus. Like others we served with cheese – I used Romano.
Stacey September 3, 2020
Winner Winner Pasta Dinner! My husband is allergic to most nuts so I took another reviewers idea and sauteed crimini mushrooms sliced super thinly and added them at the end. I also added some sauteed pancetta (which I really didn't need with the meatiness of the mushrooms), Parmesan cheese and home grown cherry tomatoes during the final re-heat. Topped it off with some fresh oregano that I had left over from the night before and a bit more Parmesan cheese and VOILA! Delicious!!! My husband told me to add it the Top 5 list.
Elizabeth M. May 26, 2020
This was really good! My whole family enjoyed it. I added Parmesan cheese when I served it!
Elizabeth M. May 26, 2020
This was really good! My whole family enjoyed it. I added Parmesan cheese when I served it.
Willh5080 April 29, 2020
This is one of the best paste recipies i ever cooked! It's SO tasty that i forgot about everything!)
Also try this pastarecipe https://food52.com/recipes/20605-pasta-piselli
Adrienne L. August 4, 2019
Agree with others that it needs just a little something more, or else used as a side dish. I added red pepper flakes, but if I made this again I would add some cheese component to it and leave the garlic in for a stronger flavor. It also makes a lot more than two servings, at least three and maybe even four (even as a main).
Amy M. April 22, 2018
What other nut could be used instead of Walnuts?
Darlene April 23, 2018
I think this would be very good with almonds, maybe pistachios. This recipe is actually on my menu for this week. It's a great weeknight recipe and a perfect springtime meal.
Rick B. May 27, 2020
Pine nuts are always a good choice.
macfadden June 20, 2017
Tasty. Check your asparagus before 4 minutes if it's thin, though; mine was a bit overdone by then.
Meg June 4, 2017
Great, easy, quick. I added some fresh basil along with the walnuts and I think I'll add it to the puree next time.
Darlene July 8, 2016
This recipe is simple, quick and delicious. It's similar to a lot of pasta recipes I use, but the puree of asparagus is a very complimentary component. We love garlic so I use more and leave it in. The second time I made it I added sauteed chicken sausage and that was delicious too.
T July 5, 2016
This was bland and underwhelming. Definitely will not be making again. I'm disappointed because usually food 52 recipes are pretty spot on.
Bastien April 24, 2018
I agree with you. Very disappointing. Thanks for the Parmigiano reggiano that added some flavor.
Jenny June 28, 2016
Also added 1/3 of an avocado in the asparagus purée, following NancyFrom Kona's comment, I added the pasta water after the puree was almost fully blended. This green sauce was amazing.
I also tossed some cherry tomatoes into the pasta in the end with shaved Parmesan :) Thanks for the recipe!
robyn May 16, 2016
This is a recipe very close to Gourmet or Bon Aperit recipe I have been using for many years.
Tom May 6, 2016
Geez, that sounds good. I would be tempted to cook the non puréed asparagus (in larger pieces) with the pasta
NancyFromKona March 24, 2016
This is a very tasty, easy recipe. I had several #'s of asparagus from The Big Box Store and was weary of grilling them again. Because my husband has a severe garlic allergy, I used a medium sized shallot instead and elected to purée that along with the asparagus. Instead of adding the pasta water immediately, I sauted it until the veggies were lightly browned and then as I puréed the mix, added the pasta water to the pan. The amount of food to be puréed is so small the Vitamix could not do it and I resorted to the mini food processor. I really liked the mouth feel provided by the finely chopped walnuts. Going into my favorites collection. I think with a sturdy pasta could be made ahead and reheated. Next time I may try adding a little pancetta.
Anna April 28, 2015
My boyfriend is allergic to nuts, so instead of walnuts we used chopped cremini mushrooms. Also, the advice to add parmesan and crushed red peppers was spot on.