Lemony Asparagus Pasta

Lemony Asparagus Pasta

17 Reviews
From: EatingWell Magazine, June/July 2006

Penne and asparagus are bathed in a rich sauce with a slight bite of mustard, lemon and Parmesan. This dish is lovely in early spring, when asparagus is at its peak and nights are still cool enough to inspire a craving for something rich and warm.

Ingredients 2 servings

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  • 4 ounces whole-wheat penne pasta, (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided


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  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Cook pasta for 6 minutes. Add asparagus and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the pasta and asparagus are just tender, about 3 minutes more. Drain and return to the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk milk, mustard, flour, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Whisk in the milk mixture. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tarragon, lemon zest and juice.
  3. Stir the sauce into the cooked pasta and place over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thick, creamy and coats the pasta. Stir 1/4 cup Parmesan into the pasta until combined. Serve the pasta topped with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: 1 1/2 cups
  • Per serving: 395 calories; 12 g fat(5 g sat); 6 g fiber; 56 g carbohydrates; 19 g protein; 100 mcg folate; 26 mg cholesterol; 7 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 886 IU vitamin A; 8 mg vitamin C; 332 mg calcium; 3 mg iron; 662 mg sodium; 400 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Calcium (38% daily value), Folate (25% dv), Magnesium & Zinc (19% dv), Vitamin A (18% dv), Vitamin C (16% dv).
  • Carbohydrate Servings: 3 1/2
  • Exchanges: 3 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1/2 whole milk, 1 lean meat

Reviews 17

March 25, 2015
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By: EatingWell User
Taste very good, but.... Though I liked the recipe, I wish I had looked at the quantity of the ingredients before deciding to make it. I realized that 4 oz. of pasta wasn't enough to feed two teenagers, so I doubled it. Now, I have a recipe that I have to use 1 cup of cheese. I wouldn't consider this to be healthy. Any recipe can appear to be healthy if the quantity is small enough. Misleading! Pros: Great flavor Cons: Recipe size is too small to be satisfying.
January 18, 2015
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By: EatingWell User
Very impressed I don't usually make creamy sauces because they're too fatty, but this one has great flavour and texture without excessive calories. I used dijon mustard instead of wholegrain, and rosemary instead of tarragon, but left all the other ingredients exact. Sauce is great! I added some cooked chicken at the end to boost the protein. Thank you for this recipe! Pros: Very tasty, easy and worry free, healthy and not too creamy
June 09, 2014
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By: EatingWell User
This was spectacular! It takes some prepping but O-M-G this is an amazing pasta dish! I used Trader Joe's brown rice penne and it came out great. I made a double recipe and had enough for 3 more meals. I was actually surprised at how well it reheated, especially with the rice pasta. I love all things lemon and mustard so to put the 2 together was a terrific treat for my taste buds. Husband loved it just as much! I served it with the Lemony Carrot salad =) Pros: Light, creamy, amazing flavor, reheatable Cons: prep time a little longer than I'd prefer
May 22, 2014
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By: EatingWell User
great side or main dish I made this tonight with leftover asparagus. I did not have a fresh lemon or tarragon, but this turned out great. I also used 1% milk instead of whole. I added just a bit more mustard because I had cheap grainy mustard instead of the good stuff. My 7 yr old loved it. Seeing her eat two servings made me think that one could serve this with chicken mixed in as a main dish. My husband and I also sprinkled a little truffle salt over top (if you don't have any, buy it! well worth the price). Delish! Pros: quick, easy, full of flavor
December 13, 2013
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By: sammebuck
A pasta dish with flair and flavor This is a great dish. I was sceptical of the recipe making enough for two, but it really does. I do not like tarragon, used basil instead; used bow tie instead of penne. Also, added some fresh sugar snap peas to it. Not good with sauces, I was a little nervous, but the sauce is easy and cooks up great, no lumping or clumping. Loved the lemony flavor. This is a keeper! Pros: Easy to make, quick, simple ingredients
June 17, 2013
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By: heather
easy and good My husband loved it. I used fresh tarragon and apparently have never cooked with it before and decided I didnt like it. Smells and tastes like black licorice to me. If you dont mind tarragon though, its a great recipe. Pros: easy Cons: tarragon
April 24, 2013
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By: juliaoceanchild1
Delicious! Will make again. Yum! A friend of mine is a picky eater on top of being vegetarian and she (like my boyfriend and I, who are not picky eaters) really enjoyed this dish. I used a little extra lemon than called for, a little less tarragon than called for, 2% milk instead of whole, and regular ol' Dijon mustard instead of the grainy stuff (only because whenever I buy the grainy kind I never use it all up before it goes bad). I had no issues with these small changes - the flavor and texture were still great. I will absolutely make this again and my picky eater friend asked for the recipe! My boyfriend thought it would be good with chicken added, so I will probably try that at some point. Pros: Easy, summery, flavorful, inexpensive
January 03, 2013
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By: Fajah
Great lemon flavor I cooked this recipe and loved every single bite! The fresh lemon taste with the asparagus was really great to have on a cold winter's night. It reminded me of a nice summer dish with all of the fresh flavors of the lemon zest and juice in the cream sauce. I doubled this recipe and it was just plenty for three with two portions for left overs. I will definitely try this again with the addition of mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes that was suggested. I know it would add even more dimension to the dish. However, my sister felt the lemon was too much. I thought it was just right, so I suppose you have to try it to see it for yourselves! Pros: Fresh, lively and easy to make
May 10, 2012
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By: EatingWell User
pretty good It was pretty good for a quick and easy meal. Make sure you prep before, I didn't and I over cooked it a little bit. The sauce wasnt creamy. I overcooked everything a little bit so next time im gonna add some more milk, and maybe leave some water after I drain the pasta. Add more seasoning if you want more taste, i thought it was kinda bland