Lemon Asparagus pasta is a popular and delicious dish that offers a balance of delicious flavors and nutrients, making it a satisfying and nutritious option for any weeknight meal. Serve it as a vegetarian meal or add in lean chicken or turkey.
Perfectly cooked tender asparagus and noodles tossed in zesty homemade pesto sauce and served with a squeeze of lemon juice. A flavorful restaurant-quality dish ready in less than 30 minutes.
⭐ Love easy pasta recipes? Try these readers' favorites: Alfredo Bake, Chicken Fajita pasta and Chicken Broccoli.
There is a skip-to-recipe button in the top left corner along with a clickable table of contents list (just below) that will quickly take you to the part you are more interested in. Enjoy!
Why It's Yummy
- Nutritious meal - Chicken is a lean source of protein, which tastes delicious paired with fresh earthy, and vitamin-rich asparagus. This dish will keep you satisfied and full for many hours without being heavy on the stomach.
- Ease - depending on your prep time, this dish can be thrown together in less than 30 minutes. Minimal time, effort, and only basic ingredients are all you need for this easy asparagus pasta.
- Simplicity - this dish is made with my homemade pesto but for convenience's sake any store-bought pesto will taste incredible too. We use simple seasonings like salt, black pepper and a little lemon juice, and aromatic basil for serving. That’s it. To take it up a notch, mix in extra aromatics such as onion, garlic, or use a different sauce instead of pesto (creamy sauces such as Alfredo, lemon butter, and Bechamel (my dairy free white sauce) are excellent here.
- Healthy Asparagus - this green veggie is a nutritious vegetable that offers multiple health benefits: it is low calorie, high in fiber, loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate, bursts with antioxidants, can help in lowering blood pressure, and has anti-inflammatory properties that are great for our gut health.
My few comments on the ingredients + don't forget to read the Tips section!
The full recipe and ingredients can be found in the recipe card below this post.
- Asparagus - choose fresh asparagus that is vibrant green in color, firm, and with straight stalks. Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus, this should happen easily without almost any force. Or place a bunch of asparagus stalks on a cutting board and cut off the ends with a knife about 1-2 inches from the ends.
- Olive Oil - we like to use quality virgin olive oil for it’s rich flavor and nutritious especially heart-healthy properties. Feel free to use your favorite staple cooking oil instead as you’ll still feel olive-y notes in the basil pesto.
- Salt - quality sea salt or kosher salt to resin natural flavor.
- Lemon juice - fresh is best, or you can also use fresh lime or orange juice instead.
- Pesto - we like to make it homemade.
- Pasta - small tubular pasta types or thinner fettuccine or spaghetti. Use gluten-free options if that is important to you. It may take some time to find your best brand for GF pasta as many GF varieties are not very good. Our family likes Barilla pasta.
- Chicken - fresh chicken thighs or chicken breast cut into small bite-size pieces. Chicken thighs are so much more flavorful and tender than chicken breast. They also have more fat content, which makes them extra juicy. For leaner poultry options use chicken breast, tenders, or turkey breast instead.
Pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions to ''al dente''. Drain pasta and set aside. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water for later.
Asparagus. In a medium saucepot, add water and take it to a boil. Meanwhile, the water is warming up, prepare the asparagus stalks by snapping the woody ends off or cutting them off with a knife.
Add the stalks to boiling water, and simmer on low for 3-4 minutes. You can also steam the asparagus if you wish.
Make an ice bath. Remove the cooked asparagus from the water and place in a bowl with cold water and ice.
Set aside to let the asparagus cool and stop cooking.
Chicken. Season the sliced chicken pieces with salt and black pepper. In a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Once the oil is hot cook the chicken until golden brown (about 4-5 minutes).
Once cooked, lower the heat to medium and add pesto sauce, 1 cup pasta cooking water, and lemon juice.
Toss the chicken in the mixture and take it to a simmer. Stir in cooked pasta and asparagus.
Give it a good stir and cook until pasta is warmed through. Remove from the stovetop.
Serve with grated parmesan on top and lots of fresh basil leaves. Try this quick recipe for basil chiffonade.
🥗Make It Healthier
Keep your portion size in tact - Experts recommend a size of a clenched fist (1 cup) for a portion of pasta, rice, cereal, vegetables, and fruit. A meat portion should be about as big as your palm.
Pasta swap - Use gluten-free pasta or whole wheat pasta instead of regular wheat pasta. Or for the extra healthier recipe, swap the pasta for buckwheat, brown rice, or quinoa.
"Eating a rainbow" - serve pasta with colorful veggie salad, nuts, and seeds for a nutritious meal. Most of our meals should look like a ''rainbow''. Why? Choosing a variety of different-colored whole foods helps our bodies to get a complete range of nutrients. According to Dr Tim Spector eating at least 30 different plants a week is crucial for a healthy gut.
Try to buy organic or locally as much as possible. Not all the ingredients are always available or simply way too overpriced. I get it, but if you can, at least do organic meat.
- Nonstick Skillet or Wok
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Airtight Food containers
- Mixing Bowls
- A good parmesan cheese (or similar hard cheese) freshly grated from the block will melt better in the sauce.
- When cooking the pasta don’t forget to season it with salt and black pepper.
- For extra flavor use seasoned salts such as garlic salt or my homemade celery salt.
- Consume right away. Pasta recipes are not the best for refrigerating as the pasta absorbs too much sauce while it sits and when reheating you’ll need to add either water, or broth, or make extra sauce to return the dish to its original flavor and texture.
- For added lemon flavor, add lemon zest from 1 medium lemon to basil pesto.
- Make a double batch of my cashew pesto and use it in multiple recipes: to baste fish fillets or poultry, a quick healthy potato salad, for pizza sauce, as a dipping sauce for Veggie Kabobs or Fingerling Potatoes.
📋 JULIA'S TIP Asparagus is a nutritious vegetable that offers multiple health benefits: it is low calorie, high in fiber, loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate, bursts with antioxidants, can help in lowering blood pressure, and is anti-inflammatory which is great for our gut health.
As this lemony pasta is already a flavorful and satisfying meal I recommend serving it with a simple side salad, crusty garlic bread or bruschettas.
Serve it with:
- Side Salad - Caprese salad, Corn Salad, or Vegetable Salad. If you are short on time, our go-to quick side is always Cucumber Salad or Tomato Salad.
- Side of steamed, roasted, or grilled vegetables - cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, brussels sprouts, cauliflower.
Freezing And Storing Instructions
- To Store. When the asparagus pasta is ready, let it cool completely and then place it into an airtight container in your fridge for up to 3 days.
- To Freeze. Follow the same steps as above and freeze for up to 2-3 months. Let thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat in a skillet or microwave. Normally, the pasta will absorb lots of sauce as it sits and it is a great idea to have extra pesto sauce and some warm water on hand when reheating.
- Add other protein - ground lean beef or pork, shrimp. Or for vegetarian modification opt for tempeh, tofu cubes or strips or white butter beans (beans should go in last).
- Different vegetables - broccoli, green beans, peas, chopped bell peppers, sliced mushrooms, or diced tomatoes.
- More fresh herbs - depending on what pesto you’ll be using you can add more fresh herbs accordingly. We like basil, parsley, thyme, marjoram, tarragon, and oregano which are all great options.
- Spices - for added heat try red pepper flakes, chili powder, or jalapeno.
- Vegan lemon asparagus pasta - For a dairy-free options omit the parmesan cheese and use nutritional yeast flakes instead. Check for pesto ingredients as well as this typically contains parmesan cheese. And to make it completely vegan, use plant-based proteins such as tofu, beans, and tempeh.
- Different sauce - Alfredo Sauce, different pesto, or simply olive oil and fresh lemon juice and lemon zest. You could also try tangy tomato sauce such as passata or other flavored pasta sauces.
Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus, this should happen easily without almost any force. Or cut these off with a sharp knife. If the asparagus stalks are very thick, you can use a veggie peeler to remove the tougher exterior. Then cut each asparagus spear into 2-inch long or a little longer bite-size pieces. Continue with recipe instructions for cooking.
Yes, the best way is to cook the asparagus first (whatever method you'll choose) and then later toss it in the pasta with sauce.
Most of green veggies will be a good swap: try green beans, green peas, green bell peppers, broccoli, leafy greens, sugar snap peas, brussel sprouts.
Easy Asparagus Recipes
- Sauteed Asparagus With Peas
- Cheesy Asparagus With Tomatoes
- Asparagus And Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast
- Easy Roasted Carrots and Asparagus
For more sides hop on to our Salad recipe archives.
💗I hope you'll enjoy this asparagus pasta recipe, please leave a rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo of your food and tag me on Instagram @theyummy_bowl. I love seeing your creations! 💗
Lemon Asparagus Pasta With Chicken
- 1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs or breast (cut into 1-inch pieces)
- 8- ounce uncooked fusilli pasta (gluten-free if preferred)
- kosher or sea salt ( to taste)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pound asparagus (trimmed and woody ends cut off, cut into 1-2 inch pieces)
- ½ cup basil pesto
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
For serving (optional)
- 2 tablespoons or more parmesan cheese (grated)
- fresh basil
- Pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions to ''al dente''. Drain pasta and set aside. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water for later.
- Asparagus. In a medium saucepot, add water and take it to a boil. Meanwhile, the water is warming up, prepare the asparagus stalks by snapping the woody ends off or cutting them off with a knife. Add the stalks to boiling water, and simmer on low for 3-4 minutes. You can also steam the asparagus if you wish.
- Make an ice bath. Remove the cooked asparagus from the water and place ina bowl with cold water and ice. Set aside to let the asparagus cool and stop cooking.
- Chicken. Season the sliced chicken pieces with salt and black pepper. In a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil is hot cook the chicken until golden brown (about 4-5 minutes).
- Once cooked, lower the heat to medium and add pesto sauce, 1 cup pasta cooking water, and lemon juice. Toss the chicken in the mixture and take it to a simmer. Stir in cooked pasta and asparagus. Give it a good stir and cook until pasta is warmed through. Remove from the stovetop.
- Serve with grated parmesan on top and lots of fresh basil leaves. Try this quick recipe for basil chiffonade.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)
Julia | The Yummy Bowl
We love this lemon-y asparagus pasta for a quick weeknight meal.