This asparagus pasta, lightly flavored with lemon and then a burst of fresh mint, is the perfect spring or summer meal.
The ingredients here are in season, crisp, and fresh. It's like eating sunshine in a bowl.
This asparagus and lemon pasta recipe is a light and refreshing dish that's perfect for dining al fresco. The combination of tender-crisp asparagus, zesty lemon, and fresh mint with a splash of white wine and butter creates a deliciously savory and tangy sauce that perfectly coats the pasta. It's so easy to make and tastes amazing.
Why You're Going to Love this Recipe
- The combination of fresh asparagus, zesty lemon, and mint creates a bright and refreshing flavor that's perfect for spring or summer.
- The creamy and savory sauce made with white wine and butter is so luxurious you'll feel like dining at a fancy restaurant - but it's super easy to make!
- Using the pasta water in the sauce is such a smart trick that helps thicken and bind everything together while adding some extra starchiness and flavor.
- This recipe is perfect for a quick and easy weeknight dinner, but it's also elegant enough for a romantic date night or special occasion.
- The Parmesan cheese adds a deliciously salty and nutty note that complements the other flavors perfectly.
- The recipe is so versatile - you can easily swap out the asparagus for other seasonal veggies or add in some protein like shrimp or chicken for a heartier dish.
- It's a great way to use up leftover pasta, and the leftovers make a delicious lunch the next day.
- The recipe is customizable to your taste preferences - you can adjust the amount of lemon or mint to suit your liking.
- It's a great way to get more veggies into your diet without sacrificing flavor or satisfaction.
Want to switch it up a bit? No problem; this recipe is the perfect base for experimenting with other flavors!
Crack an Egg: Fry up a sunny side egg and put it on top. The creamy yolk adds a whole new level of richness to the sauce!
Shrimp and Asparagus Pasta: Add in some sautéed shrimp for some protein and a seafood twist on this dish. Simply cook the shrimp in a separate pan and add it to the pasta before serving.
Mushroom and Asparagus Pasta: Swap out the shrimp for some sautéed mushrooms for a vegetarian option on this dish. The meaty mushrooms will add an earthy flavor that pairs perfectly with the lemon and Parmesan cheese.
Lemon Ricotta Asparagus Pasta: Add a dollop of creamy ricotta cheese to the sauce for a deliciously rich and tangy version. This variation is perfect for those who love a creamier pasta dish.
Peas and Parmesan: This spaghetti with peas, garlic, and parmesan is easy, delicious, and oh-so perfect for spring.
Asparagus Alfredo Pasta: Swap out the white wine and butter sauce for a classic Alfredo sauce made with heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, and garlic. This variation is perfect for those who want more indulgent and decadent pasta.
Chicken Asparagus Pasta: Add in some cooked and sliced chicken breast for a heartier and more filling pasta dish. This variation is perfect for those who need a little more protein in their diet.
Asparagus: This veggie adds a crisp and fresh flavor. It also brings a great source of fiber, vitamins A, C, E, and K, and folate.
Lemon: The lemon adds a brightness that pairs perfectly with the asparagus. The acidity in the lemon also helps cut through the richness of the butter, cheese, and garlic.
Pasta: The pasta adds a comforting and filling element - not to mention it's the base of everything. You can use any type of pasta you like, but linguine or spaghetti works best for this recipe.
Butter: The butter adds a rich and creamy flavor to the sauce. It also helps thicken it and gives it a silky texture.
White Wine: The white wine adds a depth to the sauce and helps deglaze the pan. It also helps the sauce reduce and concentrate the flavors.
Parmesan Cheese: Parmesan cheese adds a nutty and salty flavor to the sauce. It also helps thicken the sauce and gives it a creamy texture.
Mint: The mint adds a refreshing and herbaceous note to the dish. It pairs well with the lemon, asparagus, and garlic, bringing out their flavors.
Garlic: The garlic adds a pungent and aromatic flavor to the dish. It also helps enhance the other flavors and if you're making pasta, you need garlic.
Pasta Water: The pasta water helps loosen the sauce and gives it a silky texture. It also helps the sauce adhere to the pasta and prevents it from being too dry.
How to Make Asparagus Pasta
First things first, we need to get our pasta cooking. So, grab a pot and fill it with water. Add salt to the water (I usually do about 2 tbsp) to flavor your pasta. While we wait for the water to boil, we can prep our asparagus. I cut off the tough ends and chop the asparagus into bite-sized pieces (you can save the ends in the freezer and use them for soup later).
Now, let's heat some oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once that's hot, we can hit it with the garlic. We want to cook the garlic until it's fragrant, which should only take about a minute or two.
Next, we're going to add our asparagus to the skillet and let it cook for about two minutes. Add the white wine. The wine is going to give the sauce a great depth of flavor. We'll cook the asparagus until it's tender-crisp, which should take about 5-7 minutes. This will also let the wine reduce.
Once the asparagus is cooked, we'll add the juice and zest of a lemon to the skillet, plus the butter. This is going to give our dish a really bright flavor.
Let's grab the pasta. I add the pasta directly from the pot of water using tongs. We'll toss the pasta in the sauce to make sure it's fully coated. We'll also add some grated parmesan cheese to the skillet. The parmesan is going to give the dish a nice salty flavor and a bit of umami. We love some good umami flavor. At this point, check your sauce to see if it needs to loosen up a bit. Add the reserved pasta water (as much or as little as you need!).
Last but not least, we're going to add some chopped mint leaves to the skillet. The mint is going to give the dish a fresh and surprising flavor. Honestly, it's probably my favorite part of this dish. We'll toss everything together once more and season with salt and pepper to taste.
And that's it! Our delicious asparagus and lemon pasta is ready to serve. The combination of the asparagus, lemon, and mint creates a bright and refreshing flavor, while the butter and Parmesan cheese add richness and depth to the dish. Plus, it's super easy to make and perfect for a quick weeknight dinner.
Don't overcook the asparagus: You want the asparagus to be tender but still have a slight crunch to it. Mushy asparagus is super unappetizing.
Use freshly grated parmesan: Freshly grated parmesan is almost always the way to go. It has a stronger and more flavorful taste than pre-shredded cheese.
Adjust seasoning to taste: Taste the dish as you go along and adjust the seasoning as needed. You might need to add more salt, pepper, lemon juice, or parm to get the flavor just right.
Add the mint at the end: Adding the mint leaves at the end of the cooking process will help preserve their fresh flavor and prevent them from becoming wilted and soggy. Plus, if the mint is cooked for too long - it almost becomes black? Not appetizing.
Use high-quality ingredients: Since this dish has only a few ingredients, it's important to use high-quality ones. Look for fresh asparagus, a juicy lemon, and good-quality cheese.
Garnish with lemon zest: Once you've plated the pasta, sprinkle some lemon zest on top for an extra pop of flavor and a pretty garnish.
Sauvignon Blanc: This crisp and acidic white wine pairs well with dishes that have bright and tangy flavors, like our lemony pasta. Look for a zesty and refreshing pairing of a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand or California.
Pinot Grigio: Another great white wine option is Pinot Grigio, which has a light and bright taste that won't overpower the delicate flavors of the asparagus and lemon. Try a Pinot Grigio from Italy or the Pacific Northwest for a perfect match.
Chardonnay: If you prefer a richer and creamier white wine, a Chardonnay can also work well with this dish. Look for one that has a balance of fruit and oak flavors, like a California or Australian Chardonnay.
Rosé: A dry rosé can also be a great choice for this pasta dish, as its light and refreshing taste will complement the lemon and asparagus without overpowering them. Look for a rosé from France or California for a perfect summer pairing.
What to Serve it With
Remember, the key is to keep things simple and let the flavors of the pasta shine. So don't feel like you need to add too many extra components to the meal! That being said - these are all excellent ideas for sides.
Garlic Bread: A classic side dish for pasta, garlic bread is the perfect accompaniment to our lemony pasta. Toast some crusty bread, brush it with garlic butter, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese for a delicious and easy side.
Green Salad: A simple green salad with a light vinaigrette dressing is a great way to balance out the richness of the pasta. Try adding some chopped tomatoes or cucumbers for extra freshness.
Grilled Chicken: If you're looking for a protein to add to your meal, grilled chicken is a great option. Marinate some chicken breasts in lemon juice and herbs, then grill until cooked through and slice thinly to serve on top of the pasta.
Roasted Vegetables: For a vegetarian option, roasted vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, and mushrooms make a great side dish for our asparagus and lemon pasta. Toss them in olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roast in the oven until tender and caramelized.
Reheating and Storage
Reheating: When reheating leftover pasta, it's important to not overcook it and maintain the texture and flavor. Here are two ways to reheat the pasta:
- Stovetop: Place the pasta in a non-stick skillet with a splash of water or broth. Cover with a lid and heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is heated through.
- Microwave: Transfer the pasta to a microwave-safe container and sprinkle with a few drops of water. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and microwave on high for 1-2 minutes or until heated through.
Storage: To store leftover pasta, let it cool to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Refrigerate the pasta within two hours of cooking.
- Store the pasta in the refrigerator for up to four days.
- Avoid freezing the pasta, as it may become mushy after thawing.
- To reheat, follow the tips mentioned above.
And that's it! With these tips, you can enjoy your asparagus and lemon pasta for multiple meals without compromising on taste or texture.
Lemon and Asparagus Pasta with Mint
- 8 oz linguine or any other long, thin pasta shape
- ½ C reserved pasta water
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 lb asparagus tough ends removed, chopped into bite sized pieces.
- ½ C white wine
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- ¼ C butter
- ¾ C parmesan cheese grated
- 1¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ C mint leaves roughly chopped
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook according to the package instructions until al dente.
- Reserve ¾ cup of the pasta water and drain the rest. *see notes
- While the pasta is cooking, add oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the asparagus, and cook for two minutes. Add the white wine, and cook for another 4-5 minutes, until the asparagus is tender-crisp and the wine has reduced.
- Add the butter, lemon juice, and zest to the skillet. Stir to combine.
- Add ½ cup of the reserved pasta water to the skillet and stir to combine.
- Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss to coat in the sauce.
- Add the Parmesan cheese and toss again to combine.
- If the sauce is too thick, add more pasta water a little bit at a time until you reach your desired consistency.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the mint leaves at the last second, and give everything one last toss.
- Garnish with extra lemon zest and parmesan cheese.