30 Minute Asparagus and Lemon Pasta

5 from 12 votes
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Asparagus and Lemon Pasta in a light, garlicky cream sauce topped with crispy lemon-basil Panko. A spring-forward, simple pasta dish bursting with bright flavor that’s ready in just 30 minutes. Pasta styled in a pink bowl with asparagus, peas, leeks, and lemon slices

Why You’ll Love this Asparagus and Lemon Pasta

I love that this pasta feels super light, yet is full of flavor. Garlic and leeks form the aromatic foundation, which get simmered in a creamy white wine sauce with bright notes of lemon and basil. Parmesan lends a nutty, salty tang which compliments the cream sauce beautifully.

To amp up the protein, seared shrimp or scallops would be a wonderful addition. Alternatively, you can toss in some shredded rotisserie chicken or top with crispy chickpeas

This recipe can easily be made gluten free by using chickpea or brown rice pasta. Serve it with a simple side salad and homemade garlic bread for the ultimate weeknight meal.

Recipe Ingredients and Substitutions:

  • Asparagus: Packed with vitamins and immune-supportive antioxidants, this versatile veggie has many health benefits. It’s also one of spring’s brightest stars, and one I look forward to cooking with every year.
  • Leeks: Boasting sweet, oniony flavor, leeks are also a springtime favorite. If you can’t find leeks, you can swap them for sweet onion or shallots. 
  • Peas: Green peas add a pop of color and burst of sweetness to the pasta. If using frozen, you don’t have to completely thaw them, however they should be partially thawed before adding to the pasta water. You can also leave them out, if you’re not a fan. 
  • Garlic: What’s a pasta dish WITHOUT garlic? This one has plenty, which adds aromatic goodness to the lemony cream sauce. 
  • White wine: A dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Albarino, or Pinot Grigio works best. Alternatively, use a mix of chicken or vegetable broth with a splash of white wine vinegar. 
  • Heavy Cream: A little heavy cream goes a long way in this pasta dish. For a dairy free alternative, use cashew cream or canned coconut milk. 
  • Lemon: You need the zest and juice of 1 whole lemon for this recipe. The zest is added to the panko topping, while the juice helps brighten the sauce. 
  • Pasta: Use any pasta shape you like! For a gluten free/higher protein alternative, use Banza Chickpea Pasta or Tolerant Red Lentil Pasta
  • Parmesan: Parmesan cheese adds nutty, salty depth of flavor to the Asparagus and Lemon Pasta. Alternatively, you can also use Pecorino Romano here.
  • Panko: For a gluten free alternative, use Ian’s Gluten Free Panko or crushed Rice Chex cereal.
  • Basil: Basil or chopped parsley adds a pop of freshness. 

Serving spoon pulling pasta out of a skillet

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Cook Pasta and Green Peas

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. During the final minute, add green peas to pot. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Cooked pasta noodles and green peas in a strainer

Step 2: Prepare Lemon-Basil Breadcrumbs

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add breadcrumbs and cook until golden-brown and toasted, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in lemon zest and basil. 

Step 3: Sauté Asparagus, Leeks, and Garlic

Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Once hot, add asparagus and leeks; cook 5 minutes, until just tender. Next, add garlic and red pepper flakes; cook 1 minute, until fragrant.Asparagus, leeks, and garlic sautéing in a skillet

Step 4: Add Wine, Heavy Cream, and Lemon Juice

Add white wine (or broth) to pan and gently simmer until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and stir in heavy cream, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.Wine and heavy cream being poured in a skillet of veggies

Step 5: Combine Pasta and Sauce

Add cooked pasta to asparagus mixture, along with 1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water. Stir continuously, until sauce starts to thicken and cling to noodles. Stir in Parmesan cheese, and add additional pasta cooking water as needed to thin sauce to desired consistency.

Spoon Asparagus and Lemon Pasta into bowls and scatter lemon-basil breadcrumbs overtop, along with extra fresh basil or parsley, if desired.White skillet filled with prepared lemon asparagus pasta and breadcrumbs

What to Serve with Asparagus and Lemon Pasta:

To round out the meal, you can serve it with:

  • Crusty Bread: For mopping up any extra garlic-butter sauce. 
  • A Crisp, Green Salad: Try this Shaved Brussels and Pear Salad for a burst of freshness and crunch. 
  • Protein: Add sautéed shrimp or scallops, shredded rotisserie chicken, or my Chickpea Meatballs for a punch of protein. 

How to Store and Reheat:

  • To Store: Place leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
  • To Reheat: Reheat individual portions in the microwave, stopping to stir every 30 seconds, until warmed through. Alternatively, reheat in a skillet over medium heat, adding a splash of broth as needed, until warm. 

Single portion of pasta styled in a pink bowl with a lemon wedge

More Vegetarian Pasta Recipes to Try:

Vegan Creamy Mushroom Pasta 

30 Minute Zucchini Pesto Pasta

Spinach Artichoke Pasta

If you give this recipe a try, snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth on Instagram so I can see your beautiful creations. I also really appreciate readers taking the time to leave a rating and review! Lastly, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates.

5 from 12 votes

30 Minute Asparagus and Lemon Pasta

Asparagus and Lemon Pasta in a light, garlicky cream sauce topped with crispy lemon-basil Panko. A spring-forward, simple pasta dish bursting with bright flavor that's ready in just 30 minutes.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

Equipment

  • Large stockpot or Dutch oven
  • Large skillet

Ingredients  

  • 12 oz. dry pasta of choice (use chickpea or lentil pasta for extra protein)
  • 2/3 cup fresh or frozen/partially thawed green peas
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. asparagus trimmed, and sliced at a diagonal into 2" –3" pieces
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced leeks (from 1 large or 2 small leeks) (white and pale green parts only)
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc) sub 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth mixed with a splash of white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese

Lemon-Basil Breadcrumbs

  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. salted butter
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs (unseasoned)
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
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Instructions 

  • Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. During the final minute, add green peas to pot. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. 
  • While pasta cooks, prepare Lemon-Basil Breadcrumbs. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add breadcrumbs and cook until deep golden-brown and toasted, stirring often, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in lemon zest and basil. Set aside.
  • Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Once hot, add asparagus and leeks; cook 5 minutes, stirring often, until just tender. Add garlic and red pepper flakes; cook 1 minute, until fragrant.
    Add white wine (or broth) to pan and gently simmer until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and stir in heavy cream, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  • Add cooked pasta to asparagus mixture, along with 1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking liquid. Stir continuously, until sauce starts to thicken and cling to noodles. Stir in Parmesan cheese, and add additional pasta cooking water as needed to thin sauce to desired consistency. (I always end up using the full 1 cup.)
    Spoon pasta into bowls and scatter lemon-basil breadcrumbs over top, along with extra basil, if desired.

Notes

For more protein, serve pasta with sautéed shrimp or scallops, shredded rotisserie chicken, or topped with crispy chickpeas. 
To Store: Place leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
To Reheat: Reheat individual portions in the microwave, stopping to stir every 30 seconds, until warmed through. Alternatively, reheat in a skillet over medium heat, adding a splash of broth as needed, until warm. 

Nutrition

Serving: 2cups | Calories: 412kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 790mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 4g

I calculate these values by hand to ensure accuracy, however expect up to a 10% variable depending on food brands.

If you love this recipe, please leave a star rating and review below!

 

 

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Recipe Rating




16 Comments

  1. Liz W. says:

    5 stars
    This was delicious. It was super easy to prepare and made great use of the early Spring vegetables in my co-op box. The flavors were bright. Don’t skip the breadcrumbs – the basil and lemon zest really make them sing. The only thing I added was some grilled shrimp. I will definitely be adding this to my spring rotation.

  2. Therese Wenzel says:

    5 stars
    One of my favorites, I make it all the time!

  3. Connie says:

    5 stars
    Omg absolutely delicious

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Connie I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! Thank you for taking time to leave a review!

  4. Kathy says:

    5 stars
    Love this recipe! If any of you can get fiddleheads, you can replace the asparagus with those for a real treat!

  5. Alaina Smith says:

    5 stars
    This was AMAZING. Thank you so much for your amazing recipes!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Hi Alaina–I’m so glad you enjoyed this one!! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review!

  6. Mariana says:

    5 stars
    Made this for my dinner tonight and it was absolutely delicious like all the other recipes I have tried from you! Thank you for another amazing recipe, Jamie!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Hi Mariana–I’m so thrilled you enjoyed this recipe! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review!

      1. Mysti Scott says:

        5 stars
        Thank you for this easy recipe, we loved it. Super simple, and fresh tasting. I used coconut milk instead of heavy cream, which I always tend to do, but followed the recipe besides that. I love the subtle heat from the red pepper flakes, too. Great recipe!

  7. Averi says:

    Made this tonight and OMG was it perfect and spring-y!! Breadcrumbs were amazing!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Yay! I’m so glad this one was a hit! The breadcrumbs really do make it!

  8. Kelly Harris says:

    5 stars
    Very delicious! Added scallops, and it was perfect. The breadcrumbs made it!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Hi Kelly–I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! I agree about the breadcrumbs 🙂 Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review.

      1. Jessica says:

        This is sooo good. I’m going back for seconds. I’m going to be making this dish a lot this summer. Thank you!

        1. Jamie Vespa says:

          Woohoo! I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Jessica. Thank you for taking the time to leave a rating and review!