Lemon asparagus pasta is a bright and flavorful pasta that’s perfect for spring and summer! Thinly sliced asparagus is quickly sauteed with garlic and oil and tossed with al dente pasta, lemon zest, and juice. Finished with hand-torn fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese, this pasta is as easy to eat as it is to make!
We eat pasta all year round in our home.
While we love our heartier pastas, in the warmer months we tend to crave something lighter, like this pasta with asparagus and lemon, lemon arugula pasta, and angel hair with sun dried tomatoes and spinach.
Lemon asparagus spaghetti is brightly flavored thanks to the lemon juice and zest and the bright green asparagus adds wonderful flavor and texture.
The fresh basil adds yet another dimension to this wonderful simple pasta!
And the best part is this can be ready in under 30 minutes!
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Bring a large pot of salted water (2 tablespoons of salt per gallon of water) to boil. Remove the bottom two inches from 1 bunch of asparagus and slice the spears into 3-inch long thin pieces on a diagonal bias. Slice 6 cloves of garlic, and zest and juice one lemon. Grate 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese. Note: Try your best to cut the asparagus very thinly. They take on the same consistency as the spaghetti/linguine and make each bite a lot easier than having big chunks of asparagus mixed throughout.
- Add 1 pound of linguine or spaghetti to the water and cook to 1 minute less than al dente. While the pasta cooks, heat a large pan to medium-low and coat it with a 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add a 1/2 teaspoon of hot red pepper flakes and saute for 30 seconds more.
- Add the sliced asparagus and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the asparagus turns bright green.
- When the pasta is almost done, add 1 cup of pasta water to the pan and turn the heat to medium.
- When the pasta is 1 minute less than al dente, add it to the pan and toss it with the asparagus, garlic, and oil to coat.
- When the pasta reaches al dente, remove the pan from the heat and add the lemon zest and juice, and toss to emulsify. Taste test the pasta and make any adjustments to salt and pepper as needed.
- Add a 1/4 cup worth of hand-torn basil leaves and a hefty drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, then serve in bowls with the grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
- Asparagus. Slicing the asparagus into thin, diagonal strands is recommended as it mimics the shape of the pasta and makes for a beautiful presentation and a better eating experience.
- Save your pasta water! We say this in almost all our pasta recipes, but it really is that important. In the case of this lemon asparagus spaghetti, we use 1 cup of pasta water to form the sauce. Additional ounces can be used to loosen the sauce if it becomes dry at all.
- Pasta. We used linguine here, but spaghetti would also be great!
- Cheese. We recommend using a parmesan cheese here, like Parmigiano Reggiano but Grana Padano also works. If you prefer to use Pecorino, you can, although please note Pecorino tends to be saltier and stronger so keep that in mind when adjusting salt and pepper.
- Herbs. We used fresh basil for this recipe, but fresh parsley would also be great instead of, or in addition to the basil. As always, we will never recommend the use of dried basil or Italian seasoning in this or any other dish. They are never a substitute for fresh basil or parsley.
More warm weather pasta recipes
Here are a few more of our favorite pastas that are perfect for spring and summer!
- Pasta con broccoli – Spaghetti with broccoli, garlic, and oil.
- Roasted zucchini pasta – in a spicy marinara with mozzarella.
- Rigatoni primavera – asparagus, zucchini, broccolini, and peas in a creamy pink sauce.
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Lemon Asparagus Pasta
- 1 pound spaghetti or linguine
- 1 bunch asparagus sliced diagonally on a thin bias
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil divided
- 6 cloves garlic sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
- 3 cups pasta water will most likely not need it all
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup basil hand torn
- 1/2 cup parmesan grated
- Bring a large pot of salted water (2 tablespoons per gallon) to boil.
- Meanwhile, cut off and discard the bottom 2 inches of the asparagus and slice it into 3-inch long thin pieces on a diagonal bias. At this point cook the spaghetti until 1 minute less than al dente.
- Heat a large pan to medium-low and coat the pan with a 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Saute the garlic for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant then add the red pepper flakes and the asparagus. Cook for 1-2 minutes longer until the asparagus just turns bright green.
- When the pasta is almost done cooking add 1 cup of pasta water to the pan and turn the heat to medium.
- Add the almost-cooked pasta to the pan and toss to coat. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. If the pasta is too dry add a bit more pasta water and toss once more.
- Once the pasta reaches a perfect al dente, remove the pan from heat and add in the lemon juice and lemon zest and toss to emulsify. Add the basil and a hefty drizzle of extra virgin olive oil as well. Taste test and make final adjustments to salt and pepper. Serve in bowls and divide the grated parmesan. Enjoy!
- Try your best to cut the asparagus into thin slices on a diagonal bias. The pieces will form long wilted strands similar to the spaghetti.
- Leftovers can be saved in the fridge for up to 3 days and can be reheated in the microwave.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.