This is similar but better then a dish served at my favorite restaurant Abruzzo in Hood River, Oregon.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring often, until it's just tender, about 9 minutes.
- Scoop out 1 cup of the pasta water and set aside, then stir in the asparagus and cook until both the penne and the asparagus are tender, about 2 minutes.
- Drain well and return the asparagus and pasta to the pot along with 3/4 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, cream, 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water, and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Set over medium heat and cook, stirring for a couple of minutes so cheese melts; add more of the pasta water if mixture becomes dry.
- Stir in the chives, lemon zest and the lemon juice. Season generously with salt, pepper and more lemon juice to taste.
- Serve with a sprinkling of the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano.
This was absolutely delicious! I made a couple minor alterations because I wanted to use what I already had on hand... half and half in place of the cream, and a combination of asiago and romano cheeses rather than parmesan.. I will definitely make it again!