The Best Asparagus Lemon Pasta

"I came across this at Epicurious and fell in love, and its been elsewhere. Years of looking for the lemon pasta I remembered as a child, and finally found it. Tweaked it a little to my own taste, replacing parsley with fresh basil and using linguine. If you don't have tender asparagus, the europes best frozen ones are far better than woody fresh ones. Do NOT substitute lighter creams, it just does not work that well."
photo by Lori Mama photo by Lori Mama
photo by Lori Mama
photo by gailanng photo by gailanng
photo by aimoahmed photo by aimoahmed
photo by gailanng photo by gailanng
photo by daisygrl64 photo by daisygrl64
Ready In:




  • Cut the asparagus into 1/2 inch slices on the diagonal, or just into 3 pieces.
  • In a steamer set over boiling water steam asparagus, covered, until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.Drain and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. set aside.
  • In a 6-quart kettle bring 5 quarts salted water to a boil for pasta.
  • In a deep 12-inch skillet heat butter and cream over moderately low heat until butter is melted and stir in zest, lemon juice, and salt. Remove skillet from heat and keep sauce warm, covered.
  • Add pasta to boiling water and boil, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Ladle 1/4 cup pasta water into sauce and drain pasta in colander.
  • Immediately add pasta and asparagus to sauce and cook over moderate heat, tossing, 1 minute, or until heated through. Add basil and salt and pepper to taste and toss well.
  • Sprinkle pasta with a little Parmesan and serve more Parmesan on the side.

Questions & Replies

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  1. Wonderfully delicious - this dish made a lovely dinner and would be perfect for any special occasion! The flavors are really delicious -- loved the lemon and parmesan - added a bit extra of both. Next time, I may add a little twist to this dish by adding a few grilled shrimp on top - YUM! Can't wait to have this dish again! Made for Everyday is a Holiday tag, February, 2012.
  2. Just delicious. I keep coming back to this recipe. As others have said, I just add the asparagus to the pasta 3 mins before the end of its cooking time rather than cooking it before and it works perfectly. Thanks very much for posting this here.
  3. LOVED this recipe. Made a few adaptations by steaming asparagus in oven with minced garlic, adding red pepper flakes to the sauce, and putting all of this into casserole dish to melt parm cheese. We loved it and will have it again!
  4. This was a perfect weeknight dinner for two. Since my asparagus was so small, I cooked it in the sauce and it came out perfect. I am also going to try putting cooked shrimp in the recipe next time. Very good lemon flavor!
  5. Made this last night and it is delicious! Followed the receipe. Very creamy with a nice lemony flavor.


  1. I used less pasta (12oz) and the same amount of everything else, but only added the water from adding the pasta to the sauce with a pasta fork, and the proportions were perfect. I will definitely make it again.
  2. I'm have mixed feelings about this dish. Maybe I did something wrong, however I added everything you said. Maybe my palate is used to more intense flavors. I too sauted the asparagus in the butter instead of steaming, used whole wheat linguine, went back to the parsley, and even added 14 oz of shrimp. My bf liked it so much he had seconds. I on the other hand needed and extra squirt of lemon, salt, and fresh cracked pepper. It was good, but not goooood. Let's just say this is not something I myself would crave. But thank you for helping me broaden my horizons.
  3. This was GOOD!!!! Used dried lemon zest instead of the fresh (1 T) and switched the basil back to parsley. Everyone loved it. While Parmesan was offered most preferred it without. The lemon flavor was incredible.

RECIPE SUBMITTED BY I am a middle aged foodie who has had the luxury of living all over the world except asia. Lived in or grew up in Nigeria, Kenya, Chicago, Russia,and haiti. born in New Zealand, brother born in Austria and many more. I have chronic medication resistant depression after 10 years on anti depressants that worked well but would stop working after a year or two, so now do my best at home living on disabilty. Not a bad thing, many have far worse health issues but i have been able to concentrate on food/cooking. My main passions are my cats. I live in the woods and somehow many starving strays or "dumps" have found the message babies who passed on left in the woods saying "suck lives at xxxx road. Most arrive sick and/or starving. Right now i have 2 that arrived with feline herpes and their attendant 2ndry bacterial infections but are doing beautifully. One old man who was going to be euthanized bc a lady who found him as a stray was moving and didnt want him...well he was a biter and rather grumpy who was in ICU for 3 days with a deadly gut infection which was fixed but he left with a diagnosis of diabetes. 3 months on insulin and finally diet controlled and he caught the herpes virus, respiratory symptom version and turned into a cuddler. Butterscotch must think "why didnt i figure out this cuddle stuff was great before i got sick!" Doing wonderfully even though he has bouts. he and the other kids are my babies. Sadly Butterscotch died of Lymphatic cancer in winter of 2008. A year before Big Boy arrived in my life, starving and weak. Full of affection he jumped into my arms and stayed, turns out he has FIV (cat hiv) so he needs to be watched closely. I love him dearly <img src="" border="0" alt="Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket"> <img src="" border="0" alt="Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket"> <img src=""> <img src="" border="0" alt="Photobucket"> <img src=""> <img src="">
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