Creamy Asparagus, Lemon, and Walnut Pasta

Test Kitchen-Approved

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

Food52 Review: 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

Serves: 2
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 15 min


  • 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
In This Recipe


  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.

More Great Recipes:
Pasta|Italian|Asparagus|Lemon|Vegetable|Walnut|Sunday Dinner|Easter|Spring|Summer|Valentine's Day|Vegetarian

Reviews (40) Questions (0)

40 Reviews

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.<br />
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.
jelloooojen 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. <br />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.
Beverly I. April 15, 2015
This pasta dish sounds wonderful! I can't wait to try it
Audrey M. July 21, 2014
has anyone ever tried this recipe with spaghetti squash?
EllenFWilliams July 17, 2014
Can you prepare everything but the pasta ahead of time?
Author Comment
Flirty F. July 18, 2014
I don't see why not. Maybe you can make a thicker sauce, or just use normal water instead of the pasta water.
cholula July 13, 2014
I have made a similar recipe for years. I got the idea for seeing a favorite recipe of Danny Kay, the comedian. Only that recipe uses broccoli instead of asparagus. Today I made another version with what I had in the fridge and it was super. I used broccolini. First I carmelized half an onion in butter (had no garlic, what?!) while the broccolini was boiling in the pot for the future spaghetti. Then I added the blanched broccolini to the carmelized onion and the cooked pasta along with juice of a lemon and red pepper flakes. While the pasta was still hot, I thinly sliced string cheese (mozzarella) and added that to the pasta along with the toasted walnuts. It turned out surprisingly very tasty.
Lorraina R. June 30, 2014
Author Comment
Flirty F. June 30, 2014
Thanks Lorraina!
Transcendancing June 25, 2014
This was a great recipe, I made it for a dinner party tonight. I had a much greener sauce than in the picture, but I pureed more than 1/3 of the asparagus mixture. I made it for six and wasn't sure I had enough asparagus, so I added some peas as well. I loved the creaminess of the dish especially without the dairy added - though I cheated a little and added some butter to the pot when the asparagus was cooking. I also finished it off with some parmesan which went very well. I used the zest of two lemons in my efforts to expand the recipe and that went well too. The texture of the pasta with the asparagus spears, rounds and peas I saved with the lemon zest and walnuts was fantastic and I'll definitely do this again! My housemate who loves asparagus declared this a definite win. Will definitely do this as a proper vegan version for friends where this will be welcome, thanks so much!
Author Comment
Flirty F. June 25, 2014
Hi Transcendancing. I'm ever so happy to hear that this recipe turned out well for you. Even though I realize that the recipe for two is small for most. At the moment there is just two of us in my household and besides I always think it's easier to multiply by two or three, than to divide by the same amounts. But that could just be me... I also love the peas and asparagus combo. Great way to make the recipe your own!
Transcendancing June 27, 2014
I definitely found it easy enough to expand for the number of people for dinner - I found it to be a very flexible recipe.
Barb June 9, 2014
I really like the technique of pureeing the asparagus as a basis for the sauce. I did think it needed a little jazzing up though, I added some parmesan, basil, and crushed red pepper and I could have used more of all of those.
Steph June 6, 2014
This is a great simple, spring recipe. I added the juice of half a lemon to the asparagus while it was sauteeing instead of the pasta water--it kept the garlic from burning and allowed the lemony flavor to fully soak into the asparagus. Thanks for sharing!
4skiski June 3, 2014
I puréed half the asparagus with half a cup of warm cream and a tablespoon of melted butter. Definitely not vegan ;) but being pregnant I have been craving creamy pasta sauces. Finished it with some freshly shaved parm and toasted pine nuts. It did not disappoint! Will be trying the creamless version when the baby weight needs to come off!
Susan T. June 4, 2014
I just made and happily consumed your version of the recipe and it was delicious! Even the carnivore hubs was happy! We topped it with minced chives (as I had no lemons!) for a nice finish.
Author Comment
Flirty F. June 4, 2014
I'm really glad you and the carnivore hubs liked it!
Author Comment
Flirty F. June 9, 2014
4skiski, I was laughing so hard when I read your comment. Maybe I too will be that too when pregnant too. And Congrats!!!
Horto June 3, 2014
yeah, makes you just want to through a little cream or creme fraiche in....creamy did catch my attention!
Author Comment
Flirty F. June 3, 2014
lol. I'm trying to eat 2-3 vegan meals per week. For me this was a guilt free compromise free option. But if you want to add cream please do so. I think it would taste really good.