Penne with Asparagus & Lemon Cream Sauce

March/April 1999, The Essential EatingWell Cookbook (2004)

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Strike while the asparagus is fresh—it's loaded with nutrients, and gives this quick pasta the very taste of spring.

Penne with Asparagus & Lemon Cream Sauce

Makes: 6 servings

Active Time:

Total Time:


  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch diagonal pieces
  • 2 bunches scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch diagonal pieces
  • 3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 12 ounces penne
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup slivered fresh basil


  1. Put a large pot of lightly salted water on to boil.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add asparagus and scallions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and browned in places, 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk ricotta and lemon zest in a large bowl. Cook penne until just tender, about 10 minutes. Measure out 1/4 cup of the pasta-cooking water; stir into ricotta mixture until creamy. Drain the penne and mix into the ricotta mixture; toss to coat. Add the vegetables and toss well. Season with salt and pepper. Serve, garnished with basil.


Per serving: 285 calories; 5 g fat (2 g sat, 2 g mono); 10 mg cholesterol; 48 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 13 g protein; 4 g fiber; 99 mg sodium; 275 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (20% daily value), Fiber (17% dv), Iron (15% dv), Calcium (15% dv).

Carbohydrate Servings: 3

Exchanges: 3 starch, 1/2 vegetable, 1/2 medium-fat meat

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