Lemon Asparagus Pasta

Steamed asparagus in a light and lemony cream sauce, deepened with fresh dill. A lovely choice for a spring supper.

Looking for a fresh and quick supper idea?

Lemon Asparagus Pasta is made ever-so-much easier with three favorite kitchen tools so indispensable that I haul them along when visiting family or friends and kitchen time is likely.

For the asparagus, I rigged up a vertical asparagus steamer a couple of years ago but ready-made ones can be purchased at kitchen stores. If you love fresh asparagus, you’ll relish how a vertical steamer cooks the spears perfectly every time. Standing upright, the thick stems are closer to the fire so cook more, the tender tips further away so cook less. Perfection.

For the lemons, a microplane is essential for creating piles of airy zest without nicking the bitter white pith. And a lemon press, a clunky-looking, yellow-painted squeezing device, extracts the most juice possible from both lemons and limes.

For the Parmesan cheese, it’s double-duty for the microplane.

ALANNA's TIPS Pasta is so rich that I have learned to allow two ounces dried pasta per serving, half what most recipes specify. Still, I think you’ll find this pasta dish filling and satisfying because it’s packed with asparagus fiber and lemon flavor. But the first time you try the smaller portion, serve a big salad on the side, just in case. Lemons vary in acidity. Some times I add no sugar at all, other times up to two teaspoons. Fresh tarragon or basil, even inexpensive Italian parsley, can be substituted for the dill.


Light and bright for spring
Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Time to table: 35 minutes
Serves 4
  • 8 ounces bow-tie pasta
  • 1-1/2 pounds fresh asparagus, woody ends trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, chopped fine
  • 3/4 cup fat free half’n’half
  • Zest from 3 lemons (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Juice from 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 0 – 2 teaspoons sugar (to taste, see ALANNA’s TIPS)
  • About 1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • Freshly grated black pepper
  • Grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta in well-salted water and drain. Steam asparagus until just slightly underdone (it will finish cooking in the sauce). Cut into two-inch lengths.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt butter on medium heat, add shallot and slowly soften. Add half’n’half, zest, lemon juice, salt and sugar. Stir in asparagus and gently warm until spears reach desired tenderness. Stir in hot pasta, letting it soak up sauce. Gently stir in dill and black pepper.

Transfer to serving bowls. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve and enjoy!

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Serving: 322 Cal; 5g Tot Fat; 3g Sat Fat; 14g Protein; 59g Carb; 6g Fiber; 399mg Sodium; 11mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 6 points

This post is my contribution to 'Taste of Yellow', a LiveSTRONG event hosted by Winos & Foodies.
When I remade this in 2009, the fat-free half 'n' half separated. The taste was fine but if appearance is important when you serve this, you might use regular half 'n' half or even cream.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences.
Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher.
Do you have a favorite asparagus recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com.
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More Asparagus Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Easy-to-Elegant Asparagus Soup Asparagus Custard Tart Roasted Salmon & Asparagus

Fresh asparagus is symbolic of spring and the return of an abundance of fresh produce. On my food blog A Veggie Venture, I've collected more than two dozen - imagine! - asparagus recipes. Here are a handful of my very favorite ways to cook and enjoy asparagus:

~ Roasted Asparagus with Feta, perfect for 'fat' spears of asparagus ~

~ Gorgeous Raw Asparagus Salad ~
"This is good", says a favorite seven-year old

~ Asparagus Tapenade ~
a delicious spread

~ still more asparagus recipes ~

© Copyright 2008 Kitchen Parade

Great recipe Alanna. I'm always looking for new ideas for pasta. This looks so easy and delicious. Thansk for supporting LiveSTRONG With A Taste Of Yellow.
OH my gosh, I have every single ingredient. Except for real cream. It can't be worse, right? Supper!

So simple - and so delishious! Thanks Alanna!!
Simple and delish is right. My family gobbled this right up last night. They did want more but luckily I'd made an extra big salad.
I've always said that if I ever won the lottery, the first three things I would do with my winnings is to : Get to a dentist to fix my horrible teeth, then eat more artichokes and asparagus!!
If my budget allowed me to do so, I would eat asparagus and pee yellow every day! Until then, I'll drool over all your lovely asparagus dishes. The Green onion sauce with the farro asparagus is a must on my list!
Barbara ~ Good luck with your event!

Ali ~ You go, girl.

Sally ~ Delish, yesh.

Anon ~ Excellent! We've gotten out of whack with portion sizes and pasta, somehow, always seems 'free', like it's so insubstantial it should have no calories. But of course - it does.

White on Rice ~ Ah yes, artichokes and asparagus together.
Lemon and cream with asparagus.... It sounds rich and perfect for spring. I get to use creme fraiche...no 1/2 & 1/2 here - let alone a fat free version....
When I bake asparagus I use the same theory - tips toward the door where it's a bit less hot!
Alanna, here I am....it's great to see a seasonal veggie in all it's glory here.

Thank you for mentioning my piece in BlogHer.
I wanted to tell you that we made your lemon asparagus pasta last night and it was delicious.
This recipe sounds great. It has all my favorite ingredients. One question though, how do you prevent the milk from curdling? Seems like adding lemon juice to milk over heat would curdle instantly. Did this happen to anyone? Any suggestions
Paul ~ When I made this last spring, the fat-free half 'n' half did indeed curdle, you can see it in the photo and I mention it in Later Notes. But that had never happened to me before, otherwise I wouldn't have published the recipe. For the record, this affects appearance but not taste. Still ... it's on my list to remake once asparagus returns again.

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna