Asparagus, peas, and bacon spring pasta

Fresh asparagus, peas, salty bacon, and pasta make this dish an easy weeknight meal. The highlights of lemon enhance the taste of springtime freshness.

Kitchen Report
Asparagus, peas, and bacon combine for a creamy spring pasta dish.

Asparagus season is fleeting and we are now at its peak! It’s true that asparagus is available nearly year round in the grocery store but this time of year there is a better chance that the spears you buy will be more tender and fresh – and less like tasteless wooden stakes. Or maybe you are one of the fortunate who grows asparagus at home. This recipe will help use up your harvest.

On a particularly brisk spring evening when I was cooking for two and wanting to find a dish that starred this harbinger of spring, I settled on this creamy pasta dish. Peas and asparagus play together nicely and the bacon adds a salty heft but it’s the lemon juice and zest that moves this pasta dish beyond cold winter nights into the brightness of the season.

You can use whatever pasta you like – fettuccine is a popular choice. I chose farfalle because I like the happy bowtie shapes (they remind me of butterflies floating over flower garden). But you can do as you wish.

This recipe is easy to portion down. Make it vegetarian by leaving out the bacon (just add an extra sprinkle of salt). Any leftovers reheat easily the next day. Or serve as a cold pasta salad on a bed of spring greens.

Asparagus, peas, and bacon spring pasta
 Adapted from A Farmgirl Dabbles
 Serves 6 to 8

1 bunch asparagus, chopped into 1-inch pieces
12 ounces farfalle (bowtie) pasta
 3 ounces bacon, chopped
 2 cups fresh or frozen peas
 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced, white and pale green parts separated from dark green parts
 2 cloves garlic, minced
 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
 1/3 cup heavy cream
 3 tablespoons olive oil
 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
 1 tablespoon lemon zest
 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
 1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced

1. Cook pasta until al dente, just tender but still firm. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Return pasta to pot.

2. While the pasta is boiling, cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon to a plate with paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon of the bacon drippings from the skillet. Add asparagus to the skillet and sauté 3 minutes. Add peas, the white and pale green parts of the onion, and garlic. Sauté until vegetables are crisp tender. Remove skillet from heat.

3. To the cooked pasta in the pot, add the vegetable mixture, 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water, dark green parts of the onion, 1/2 cup Parmesan, cream, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, half the parsley, and half the basil. Toss, adding more pasta water if needed. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

4. Transfer to a large bowl. Sprinkle in meat, remaining parsley and basil. Serve with additional Parmesan on the side.

Related post on Kitchen Report: Sautéed kale with toasted almonds on whole wheat spaghetti 

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