The Prettiest Spring Pasta

May 11, 2018
The Prettiest Spring Pasta - Hearty lasagnas and mountains of meatballs are great, but really, is there anything better than sprinkling your pasta with some spring-time veggies?

Happy Friday!

What are you up to this weekend?

The Prettiest Spring Pasta - Hearty lasagnas and mountains of meatballs are great, but really, is there anything better than sprinkling your pasta with some spring-time veggies?The Prettiest Spring Pasta - Hearty lasagnas and mountains of meatballs are great, but really, is there anything better than sprinkling your pasta with some spring-time veggies?

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We've made it to Friday, which means (hopefully) there will be some sort of kicking off your shoes in the very near future.  I know we will be ..

I'm really looking forward to our Saturday morning trip to the farmers market .. windows rolled down (of course).  I suspect we'll bring the puppies along to sniff out some furry friends while we people watch.  And pick up some starts for the garden .. hopefully, a breakfast burrito

I'm also looking forward to a best burger date.  Every year the Iowa Cattlemen host a state-wide competition to find the best burger and this year's winner is only minutes from our house(!)

But most of all, I want to pass the time doing a little of this, and a little of that.  You know .. lingering in pajamas, lots of coffee, (hopefully) a smoothie, a long walk, and a few hours on the sofa.  I wish that for you as well

Especially the smoothie

I also wish for all the moms out there the happiest of Mother's Days.  Thank-you for who you are and all that you do ..

The Prettiest Spring Pasta - Hearty lasagnas and mountains of meatballs are great, but really, is there anything better than sprinkling your pasta with some spring-time veggies?The Prettiest Spring Pasta - Hearty lasagnas and mountains of meatballs are great, but really, is there anything better than sprinkling your pasta with some spring-time veggies?


The weather in Iowa has been so beautiful the past couple of weeks and I've found myself looking for every excuse I can find to be outside

More often than not I realize it's 5 pm and a) there aren't many things in the fridge that can be turned into dinner, b) my interest in cooking is only the slightest bit stronger than my desire to order in, and c) I'm thankful for a friend's prolific asparagus patch

I've come to believe that in situations like this .. pulling something together that's quick, lazy, and delish is an art

The ability to work without a shopping list in hand or a recipe in mind is what made our grandmothers true maestros in the kitchen.  For sixty years, without fail, they had dinner on the table and didn't throw in the towel because they only had canned tomatoes and stale rice in the pantry

I'm still getting there.  Sometimes a simple recipe, one that you make once, instantly memorize, and add to the dinner rotation, helps

This is how, by 6 pm, I'd turned the asparagus, a veggie I love but don't have a sixth sense for (at least not yet) .. into our new favorite pasta dish.  I found inspiration in the River Cafe in London's new cookbook, showered it with parmesan cheese, a healthy dose of lemon juice, and retired for the evening happy and content with only a few dishes to wash

It's a salad, a veggie, and dinner all in one.  It's quick.  It can be dressed up in so many different ways: toasted nuts or breadcrumbs for crunch, minced capers, green olives, any combination of herbs, some ricotta or even goat cheese

But it needs none of this to delight or become dinner on a day far too lovely to be hovering over the stovetop



~ Adapted from Food52

4.9 from 35 reviews
The Prettiest Spring Pasta
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6 Servings
  • 1½ lbs very thin asparagus spears (and/or pea shoots, or tiny broccoli trees, or shredded greens - anything quick cooking and fresh)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ¼ - ⅓ chopped mixed fresh herbs (basil, mint, parsley, oregano)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 9 oz tagliarini or tagliatelle (linguini or fettuccini are great alternatives, gluten-free if you'd prefer)
  • 4 oz freshly grated Parmesan
  • juice from ½ a lemon
  • Fine grain sea salt + freshly ground black pepper
  1. Cook the pasta according to the directions, before draining thoroughly. Meanwhile,
  2. Trim or snap off the tough ends of the asparagus spears
  3. Finely chop the asparagus together with one of the garlic cloves and also the herbs
  4. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil, along with the rest of the garlic cloves, simmering until the cloves are soft
  5. Remove from the heat and discard the garlic
  6. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter before adding about half of the chopped asparagus
  7. Saute for ~ 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
  8. To the pan, add the rest of the chopped asparagus, followed by the flavored cream
  9. Bring to a boil before reducing the heat to a simmer until the cream begins to thicken, ~ 6-7 minutes
  10. Add the pasta to the sauce, along with about half of the Parmesan, and the lemon juice
  11. Toss to combine
  12. Season to taste with additional salt, lots of freshly ground black pepper
  13. Serve with more cheese
  14. Serve with the remaining Parmesan
1. The original calls for tagliarini or tagliatelle noodles. If you have a hard time finding them, thin egg noodles, spaghetti, or fettuccini would be great
2. Substitutes for heavy cream would be equal parts greek yogurt and milk. Also, coconut cream is a nice dairy-free substitute
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅙ Total Recipe Calories: 368 Fat: 16 g Carbohydrates: 32 g Sugar: 3 g Fiber: 3 g Protein: 15 g

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  • Reply Maya May 11, 2018 at 1:57 am

    My local farmer just brought me extra spring greens, and the asparagus season is in full swing, so I’ll have plenty for making this beautiful looking pasta. Thanks so much for all of the yummy recipes!

  • Reply Talya May 11, 2018 at 4:14 am

    I just dug deep into your archives to find an apricot/ginger cookie recipe I recalled making. For some reason, our family cannot agree on cookies, but I remember that one made everyone happy. Sifting through several years of blog posts to find the recipe made me realize what an incredibly complex, rich, delicious, wondrous story you have already lived!

  • Reply Iya - Louisa May 11, 2018 at 4:32 am

    This is pretty! I absolutely love asparagus! I did get a little obsessed at one stage and had it with every meal! haha This looks delicious.

  • Reply eliza May 11, 2018 at 9:02 am

    Wow! I must admit, this is new to me. I have never tried asparagus in pasta. I like asparagus so much specially grilled. I will definitely try this and my aunt will surely love this too.

  • Reply Geraline Batarra May 11, 2018 at 9:44 am

    This pasta dish sounds fantastic. Maybe not as good as pizza and cookie dough but still, very very good.

    I think I’ll have to make a shopping list right now. I was gawking at all of the veggies at the grocery yesterday. I should have known you were going to post this and shopped early. 🙂

  • Reply candy May 11, 2018 at 10:28 am

    My family always laughs at me when I want my food to look pretty and taste delicious. Does make a difference. This look yummy.

  • Reply Jeanette May 11, 2018 at 11:49 am

    That recipe looks absolutely amazing! Every time I see a new post I think how nice it is to hear your “voice”. I’m so happy that the weekend is here. It has been a rough week and I am ready to relax

  • Reply heydave May 11, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    I admit that I have never had a huge thing for asparagus. I mean, it’s OK by me, but I’ve never included myself in the gotta-have-it club.

    This changed my mind! I’m amazed at how many different notes I pick up when it’s cut up this way and included so simply. Great dish!

  • Reply Melissa May 11, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    This reminds me of the pasta dish I make with a green vegetable but this one has cheese, cream and olive oil. It is a great spring meal and looks amazing.

  • Reply Sarah Bailey May 11, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    It’s my Mums’ birthday this weekend so hopefully I will get to spend some time with her.

    This pasta dish sounds absolutely delicious – I definitely need to try and make it myself.

  • Reply Akamatra May 11, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    Asparagus is maybe one of the few veggies I can’t eat. My mom and sister devour it and my mom harvests them from the wild. I do love pasta though. And no, no rest this weekend I am afraid…still working!

  • Reply Amber Myers May 11, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    Pasta always makes me happy. This looks so amazing. I hope you have a fabulous weekend. Enjoy the Farmer’s Market. I always love going to those.

  • Reply Liz May 11, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    YUM! One of my favorite quick weeknight meals is similar to this. Pasta with ricotta, lemon, parmesan, olive oil, black pepper, and then whatever vegetable I have on hand. ps: You take beautiful photos ❤️

  • Reply Pam May 11, 2018 at 9:00 pm

    Pea shoots are so trendy right now. In fact, I just did a spring pasta with an avocado cream sauce. You’d love it, Ali. Oh, and I sure wish that my neighbors had a prolific asparagus patch!

  • Reply Carol May 11, 2018 at 11:34 pm

    It looks amazing! Definitely, something that I would make. So glad for the weekend where we can finally sit and relax and just enjoy the wonderful weather. I really look forward to our farmers’ markets too

  • Reply Ricci May 12, 2018 at 1:59 am

    This looks delicious – maybe even good enough to venture out into the Portland drizzle this morning to get some veggies from the Farmer’s Market 🙂

  • Reply Joanna May 12, 2018 at 9:56 am

    This is a great recipe. I teach free community cooking classes at a non-profit food and nutrition agency that is similar to Project Open Hand in SF. I am always looking for recipes that are quick, uncomplicated, and use basic ingredients. I will definitely be using this one now that our farmers market is open. Thanks!

  • Reply Autumn Murray May 12, 2018 at 10:03 am

    It almost looks too pretty to eat! This would be great for a lunch with a few girlfriends! Wishing you a lovely Mother’s Day!

  • Reply Sabrina Must May 12, 2018 at 10:56 am

    Wonderful recipe, just in time for the farmer’s market this morning! So looking forward to making this for my husband

  • Reply Jana Carrero May 12, 2018 at 11:21 am

    This pasta dish looks beautiful and delicious, and your weekend plans sound like perfection! Especially the part about lingering in pajamas haha. Hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

  • Reply Gomama247 May 12, 2018 at 11:56 am

    I often make stir-fried egg-noodles with sugar snap peas and baby corn cobs. But with my favorite combination of spring vegetables unavailable here, I’ve been a little stuck for ideas. Any bunch of spring-time greens sounds perfect and a handful of herbs will brighten up the dish, too. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Reply Claudia Krusch May 12, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    This looks every bit as good as it sounds! Love your photographs and your recipes of course. Any time you can combine fresh asparagus and/or peas with pasta, it’s a beautiful thing, as far as I’m concerned. I think I’d add some avocado too. It’s recipes like this that are slowly winning my family over to the tastes of simple and fresh meals

  • Reply Jill May 12, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    This email arrived at 4:30 pm and I was making it at 5 pm! It was fabulous, easy and best of all my children (7 and 9) were begging for more (a first).
    I made it with asparagus like you did and cut in small rounds and Cipriani pappardelle. I zested some lemon to add in the end, as well as a squeeze of lemon. Some freshly grated Parmesan before serving. Outstanding!

  • Reply David May 12, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    That’s so cool about going to the best burger place. I wish I could say I kicked off my shoes but I had to go into work today and will be doing all the fun cleaning in the meantime. The recipe looks great and I am all about having easy recipes to make when I don’t feel like doing much.

  • Reply Vicky May 12, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    So often something you write strikes a chord, usually the twangy one I’ve been hitting over and over again and wondering what to do about. Thank you the beautiful inspiration to foster kindness in our lives!

  • Reply Heather May 12, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    I love this! I have been working so hard to get more healthy recipes because our family enjoys eating a mostly whole foods diet! We eat lots of fruits, veggies and our favorite whole grain is Kamut Wheat. I would love to try this using Kamut pasta!

  • Reply Maggie May 12, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    Yummy! And perfect timing, I already have the asparagus, pasta, and parmesan, just itching to be turned into something delicious!

  • Reply HilLesha May 13, 2018 at 12:20 am

    This looks amazingly delicious! It has been awhile since I’ve made any pasta dish, but this shall change sometime soon.

  • Reply Mayuri Saxena May 13, 2018 at 1:49 am

    I am so glad that you are enjoying the weather! In Dubai, there is a sandstorm outside so we can’t go out but luckily I have all the ingredients in my pantry so I am going to try this recipe and treat my daughter! 🙂

  • Reply Georgia May 13, 2018 at 2:18 am

    Always love reading a new post from you. Am in France for 3.5 more days. Being here makes me want to get back in the kitchen. Killing my waistline though. 😊 Looking forward to trying your pasta recipe when we return.

  • Reply Vyjay Rao May 13, 2018 at 3:23 am

    The ability to whip up something fast from available resources at home is indeed an art. This is not something all can do. It is nothing short of magic. The spring pasta looks yummy and parsley and mint are sure to add a refreshing flavour.

  • Reply Nina May 13, 2018 at 6:44 am

    My plans this weekend have also been very relaxed and chilled. I’ve gotten work done and spent time with friends.

  • Reply Sayanti | May 13, 2018 at 10:59 am

    You always have so many easy and healthy recipes. I loved this recipe because it has got so many greens and pasta is one of my favourites. Good and easy to make for a small get together.

  • Reply Christina May 13, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    My Sicilian grandmother used to make a pasta and egg dish. She used Fideo, melted a little butter over the hot pasta, tossed in an egg and a little milk. I usually make this in the winter, it’s a good stick to the ribs kind of meal. Never thought to toss in some veggies though!

  • Reply Laura Dove May 13, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    Ahh yay for sunny weather! It’s gorgeous here too – finally! This looks lovely and it really is so pretty! I will have to make it this week!

  • Reply CATALINA NINI May 13, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    I have never envisioned asparagus and pasta together but this looks so good. I worked this weekend (and the majority of them) but I promised myself to attempt making some holiday balls as seen in your December post. Not bad.
    Hope that your Saturday morning trip was a success. Kisses

  • Reply Kusum May 13, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    Oh such a delicious recip! I have some asparagus sitting in the fridge, guess what I will be making for dinner tonight!

  • Reply Chris Ellis May 14, 2018 at 5:38 am

    I hope your weekend turned out just as well as it was planned to. We didn’t have Mother’s Day this weekend in the UK but I ended up spending it with my mother anyway and had a wonderful Sunday Roast. Funny how life turns out!

  • Reply Ruchika May 14, 2018 at 5:39 am

    Ali, I made this over the weekend and it was every bit as good as you said it was. Eating leftovers from the fridge the next day, it occurred to me that in cold form it was the best kind of pasta salad – the antithesis of the claggy mayonnaisey mess that haunts salad bars worldwide. Thanks so much for the recommendation!

  • Reply Joanna May 14, 2018 at 10:04 am

    I have stumbled upon my local farmer’s market the other week and spotted some really nice veggies in there. I like it that here you can only buy a vegetable if it’s in season, and right now it’s the turn of the white asparagus. I have been buying green asparagus for quite a few weeks now, as it’s so cheap at the moment, and I’ve boiled it, baked it, grilled it, but didn’t think of adding it to pasta. Thank’s for the idea!

  • Reply MELANIE EDJOURIAN May 14, 2018 at 10:42 am

    How lucky that the winner was close to you. Hope you got to eat a burger!!! I’ve never seen asparagus that thin in my local supermarkets suppose I can try it with the normal chunky ones.

  • Reply Kristy Bullard May 14, 2018 at 11:22 am

    I would love to make this with some fresh asparagus. And it sounds so easy to make – it would be a perfect weeknight dinner!

  • Reply Amalia Silva May 14, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    I love a burger date!! And yes this is indeed the prettiest spring pasta I have seen in a long time, looks delicious too!

  • Reply Jelena May 15, 2018 at 2:58 am

    This pasta looks perfect. I like green and spring food. It is full of vitamins and so fresh.

  • Reply Emily Leary May 15, 2018 at 6:04 am

    Pasta is definitely one of our family favourites and your pasta and asparagus recipe look absolutely delicious. I hope you had a great weekend!

  • Reply sabrina barbante May 15, 2018 at 6:12 am

    I love spring also because it gives us so many opportunities to dress our pasta like we dress up ourselves: full of colors and perfumes. I had asparagus, spinach and quinoa yesterday but I guess I’d love this recipe too. I’m Italian, I should definitely eat pasta more often 😉

  • Reply Sigrid Says May 15, 2018 at 9:27 am

    Geez .. My mouth is watering over your pasta but when you mentioned burger, my mind is reeling for a fat, juicy, cheeseburger. hahaha

  • Reply Denni May 15, 2018 at 9:32 am

    your recipes never disappoints ! thank to your recipe I could make the kiddos eat greens and that’s priceless ! thank you so much darling for your delicious pasta recipe

  • Reply Natasha Mairs May 15, 2018 at 11:31 am

    I love pasta! This looks perfect for spring and summer. will be trying it out

  • Reply Jade Bremner May 15, 2018 at 11:58 am

    This looks tasty and very light which is just what I like to eat on a nice spring evening.

  • Reply Jeanine May 15, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    LOVED the spring pasta! I roasted the veggies first – asparagus and zucchini then tossed in some leftover peas. Split into 2 dishes – one with a gluten-free pasta for my GF hubby, the other with fresh fettucini for my son and I. YUM!!

  • Reply Pat May 15, 2018 at 8:03 pm

    What an intriguing combination–-pasta, asparagus and other vegetables. A combination just right for spring meals.

  • Reply Czjai Reyes-Ocampo May 15, 2018 at 8:59 pm

    This is a great way to make kids eat veggies. Should give this a try one of these days. 🙂

  • Reply Lisa Rios May 15, 2018 at 11:16 pm

    Wow, this does look super pretty! It also looks light and delicious – perfect for [email protected]

  • Reply Linda Hobbis May 16, 2018 at 4:33 am

    Lovely looking dish although I must confess I’d want to add some ham or chorizo.

  • Reply fashionandstylepolice May 16, 2018 at 5:42 am

    This is indeed the prettiest spring pasta ever! It looks very yummy too. Your recipe makes it sound so easy.

  • Reply Miljana May 16, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    Healthy, nutririous, good-looking! I would love some. Saving this recipe!

  • Reply Lynne Harper May 16, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    Im a huge pasta lover. I adore nothing more than sitting back with a large bowl of deliciousness. Its also super quick and filling which is great for those busy days when your lacking on time x

  • Reply Mayuri Patel May 17, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    The pasta is pretty… delicious, and filling.Another recipe to add to my collection of how to use asparagus. I can’t imagine how our grandmothers cooked without having all the ingredients in the pantry. By 6p.m. I would not even bother to open the fridge to check out ingredients that I may have…it would be take away or if not then my mental block will not allow me to think beyond eggs and bread.

  • Reply Bethany May 17, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    That pasta looks stunning and also sounds so healthy. I must try it out for dinner some time.

  • Reply Susana May 17, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    This looks absolutely AMAZING!!!! I am so trying this out but I’m not sure about the asparagus, I’ve never had it before… I will try it out this one time LOL

  • Reply Lindsey May 18, 2018 at 4:05 am

    I am kid free this weekend. I’ve loads to do around the house, Ikea first thing Saturday morning. Then meeting family and friends for a street party for the royal wedding tomorrow.

  • Reply Cristina May 18, 2018 at 9:44 am

    Pasta is my favourite dish and I love asparagus but I’ve never thought to put them together! At the moment, I’m looking for healthier recipes as I’ve just had my gallbladder removed so will pop this on the list.

  • Reply Apolline May 18, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    Sitting here, feeling a bit sorry for myself this morning and there you were in my inbox, talking about one of my favorite dishes! Somehow the thought of making a colorful pasta salad for dinner tonight warms my heart. A wonderful change from soup and sandwiches

  • Reply Ali May 18, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    The greens do look absolutely gorgeous in this dish! Perfect for a summer lunch in the sun!

  • Reply Stephanie May 18, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    The pasta looks great, but your writing, as always, is the real reason I read your blog. Beautiful.

  • Reply Apri May 18, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    Yup, it sure is the prettiest spring pasta. Better yet, it’s the prettiest pasta ever! I bet it tastes just as good as it looks. I am loving all the colors. I’ve always loved asparagus in my pasta but never thought to shred them. Gonna try it next time!

  • Reply Sondra May 18, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    Long time reader, first-time poster since I started a site of my own – but your writing and food have never failed to inspire. What a gorgeous looking pasta – the asparagus and parmesan seem like a great variation for spring!

  • Reply Nayna Kanabar May 20, 2018 at 1:53 am

    Some times dished is that are cooked from just a few simple ingredients taste the best. Great job with this dish it looks delicious.

  • Reply Jessica Terry May 22, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    The pasta looks good.. but I just have to mention that as I’m writing I’m enjoying a DELICIOUS rosemary olive oil cake that I found in your archives. It’s stinkin’ hot in North Carolina also, but never too hot for snack cake! As long as the air conditioning is on full blast in the kitchen…I’ve been following your blog for a while and loving it…

  • Reply Amy May 30, 2018 at 5:56 am

    [email protected]

  • Reply Michael Satterfield May 31, 2018 at 2:10 am

    Pasta is my weakness and this looks amazing. I am saving this one for a future dinner. The photos look amazing.

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