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.

EatingWell Test Kitchen
Source: EatingWell Magazine, June/July 2006


Recipe Summary

35 mins


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 Facts

395 calories; protein 19.3g; carbohydrates 56.5g; dietary fiber 5.9g; sugars 6.9g; fat 12.3g; saturated fat 5.3g; cholesterol 26.4mg; vitamin a iu 885.8IU; vitamin c 8.2mg; folate 100.2mcg; calcium 332.3mg; iron 2.7mg; magnesium 73.6mg; potassium 400mg; sodium 661.5mg; thiamin 0.3mg.

Reviews (11)

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19 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 8
  • 4 star values: 8
  • 3 star values: 3
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 5 stars
I used this as a base recipe but I also think it would be good as written. The lemon flavor really makes the dish. I added sauteed mushrooms sun-dried tomatoes and a few red pepper flakes. I also subbed rosemary for tarragon.. My husband was reluctant to eat this based on the ingredient list (too minimal for him) but he requested that we have it regularly. Thanks! Read More
Rating: 4 stars
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 Read More
Rating: 5 stars
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 Read More
Rating: 3 stars
Great recipe love the idea of the creamy sauce the lemon and asparagus. I found the recipe quantities to be too small for 3 adults as a main dinner dish. I doubled the pasta and asparagus but almost had to triple the sauce recipe in order to make sure the pasta was fully coated- I should also add that I added diced chicken breast to the recipe so I guess a little extra sauce would be needed for this. I only added a pinch of extra lemon zest and kept the same amount of lemon juice however I still thought it was slightly over powering the other 2 people thought it was great though. I used thyme instead of tarragon as I had some in my fridge All in all it went down a treat and I will definitely be trying it again Read More
Rating: 5 stars
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 Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Easy Light and Creamy! This is a really nice weeknight meal. It satisfied my desire for a creamy pasta dish that wasn't heavy and I didn't feel guilty about eating! Next time I might add more lemon zest and make a shake of red pepper flakes for a little zing! Pros: Light yet creamy comfort food Cons: Not overly bursting with flavor Read More
Rating: 4 stars
lemon and asparagus are a heavenly combination! I had picked asparagus from my garden today and we had leftover ham so this pasta dish was a perfect quick dinner! I have a favorite lemon sauce that is loaded with butter and cream and this lighter version was quicker just as tasty. I added some of the pasta water and a bit of chicken broth to the sauteed onion and garlic and simmered to reduce it before adding the milk-flour mixture. I believe that added flavor and substance to the sauce. Because the ham was salty I left out the mustard. Pros: serve with sliced tomatoes in balsamic vinaigrette and a Riesling! Cons: If I had had fresh parsley I would have added that too. Read More
Rating: 3 stars
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 Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Such amazing flavour. I added more lemon than it said only because I looooove lemon. I did find that it made it the sauce not thicken up (but I didn't mind). I also added chicken. Pretty easy to cook. It holy hell did that garlic spit everywhere! Quick and easy to make and between two people still had a little left over for lunch the next day. Pros: super tasty and aspargus adds a delicious crunch Cons: garlic goes everywhere:( Read More