Creamy Asparagus Pasta

11 Reviews
From: EatingWell Magazine June/July 2006

Lemon zest ties all the flavors together in this light and creamy pasta. Make it a meal: Serve with a salad of sliced fresh mozzarella and cherry tomatoes tossed with a little fresh basil, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Ingredients 4 servings

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


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  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 3 minutes less than the package directions. Add asparagus and continue cooking until the pasta and asparagus are just tender, 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 medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 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 pasta-asparagus mixture. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sauce is thick, creamy and coats the pasta, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan. Divide the pasta among 4 bowls and top with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: 1 1/2 cups
  • Per serving: 359 calories; 10 g fat(4 g sat); 7 g fiber; 56 g carbohydrates; 17 g protein; 161 mcg folate; 18 mg cholesterol; 7 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 1200 IU vitamin A; 11 mg vitamin C; 253 mg calcium; 3 mg iron; 632 mg sodium; 466 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Folate (38% daily value), Calcium (30% dv), Vitamin C & Zinc (20% dv).
  • Carbohydrate Servings: 3 1/2
  • Exchanges: 3 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 lean meat, 1 1/2 fat | 3 Carbohydrate Servings

Reviews 11

July 29, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
Okay, but nothing special Made this as written. It was just okay. We wanted more flavor. Won't use this recipe next time. Pros: Pretty quick and easy Cons: Verges on bland
May 14, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
Great-tasting, easy to make dish This dish was very easy to prepare and it tastes great! It calls for minimal food prep which was great. I added brown lentils for some protein and their earthy taste was very complementary! I would definitely make this dish again! Pros: Flavorful, easy to prepare, looks great Cons: Cannot taste the lemon so much
July 09, 2012
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By: EatingWell User
Very tasty! Tasted so good. Next time I will brown the flour and use room temperature milk to prevent the milk from separating. Needed more flour than the recipe called for. Pros: easy to make Cons: sauce separated
April 17, 2011
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By: Jls06029
AMAZING!! I never review recipes, but I even created an account just to rave about this one. I also think that this sauce would be amazing in a healthy version of eggs florentine. Mmmm. Pros: Quick, easy and delicious Cons:
April 01, 2011
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By: EatingWell User
Creamy Asparagus Pasta This is one of my favorite spring dinners to make on a weeknight. I've substituted snap peas in place of the asparagus and that was great too. Don't forget the tarragon--that's what makes it so special! Pros: Cons:
September 29, 2010
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By: EatingWell User
I'm not sure if I added too much salt on accident, but it was way too salty. I too couldn't really taste the lemon, but the tarragon was great. Very easy to make, will try again omitting the salt and adding much more lemon. My 9 year old actually ate asparagus when I served this, so will definitely make again. Pros: Cons:
June 03, 2010
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By: EatingWell User
I burnt the garlic, so the kids were disappointed. Couldn't taste the lemon. Next time, I'll skip the garlic, go heavy on the lemon juice, and double the asparagus. Pros: Cons:
May 19, 2010
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By: EatingWell User
This is a super delicious pasta recipe! The sauce is so creamy and lemony fresh, the tarragon adds depth and beauty (even if you don't like anise flavour, and I don't!), the asparagus goes perfectly, and best of all...not an ounce of butter to be had! It's easy to make and can be used as a side or as the main course. Dress it up with some morels for an even earthier flavour. Truly, a perfect spring recipe. Pros: Cons:
May 03, 2010
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By: jordanhorowitz
Tasty dish. We don't use tarragon very often, so it's taste is always a surprising addition and it works well with the mustard. Used 1% milk and didn't have a problem. Pros: Cons: