This recipe is perfect for those spring days that there's still a chill in the air. Asparagus is popping up at the farmers market, but you need something a little more substantial than raw shaved salads. The creaminess of the mascarpone contrasts the brightness of the lemon and the toasty hazelnuts, and with so much green asparagus throughout this dish feels vegetable-forward and practically wholesome. —Catherine Lamb
Test Kitchen Notes
For more savory ways to use mascarpone, see the full article. —The Editors
4 to 6
asparagus, sliced into 3/4-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
short, curly pasta, like campagnelle or rotini
Make sure all your ingredients are prepped before you start, since this recipe moves pretty fast. Boil a pot of well-salted water, then add the pasta and stir.
While it's cooking, heat olive oil in a large pan until shimmering. Toss in asparagus and cook for 5 minutes, until bright green and tender. Season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
When pasta is just shy of al dente, usually around 7 to 8 minutes, drain it and reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water. Add the pasta to the pan with the asparagus and a splash of water (start with around 1/4 cup), and the lemon zest. Stir until the water is mostly absorbed and the noodles are coated in a glossy sauce. Fold in the marscapone and lemon juice and stir until marscapone melts into a sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add a splash more pasta water to loosen it up. Turn off the heat and fold in the Parmesan. Add in some more pepper and taste for seasoning.
Serve topped with the hazelnuts and chives, plus more Parmesan if desired.