Asparagus Pesto Pasta

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If you are a pesto lover looking for a spring twist on the classic recipe, this creamy and lemony asparagus pesto pasta is for you. Made with fresh asparagus, pistachio nuts, parsley, and a hint of lemon, this quick and easy mouthwatering spring pasta is going to become your new favorite.

Love this? Try this Nut Free Pesto or this Broccoli Pesto Pasta!

Asparagus is one of the most popular spring veggies, and today I want to inspire you with a quick and easy recipe to make when asparagus is plentiful and cheap to buy.

For more asparagus recipes, you can also check my asparagus risotto or this gorgeous spring salad.

Top view of plate full of asparagus pesto pasta

This asparagus pesto pasta is one of my favorite spring recipes! It requires very little work, and you can get it done in well under 30 minutes. Plus, you can keep this pesto ready to use in the fridge for 3 days or keep it for months in the freezer.

And you can also use this asparagus pesto on salads and toasts or use it as a dip!

This asparagus pesto pasta is also naturally vegan and dairy-free and can be made gluten-free by using gluten-free pasta.

close up of asparagus pesto pasta

Ingredients you’ll need

  • Asparagus: Of course! Make sure to pick a fresh bunch with plump and firm stalks and tips that are tightly closed. 
  • Pistachio nuts: I love the creaminess of pistachios in this recipe, plus they add a more vibrant green color to the pesto. But they can be pretty expensive. You can easily substitute them with cashew nuts, almonds, or pine nuts. If you use pistachios, make sure to use unsalted.
  • Lemon: We’ll need 2 tablespoons of lemon juice for the pesto and the zest to sprinkle on the pasta.
  • Parsley leaves: It adds depth of flavor to the pesto. Make sure to use fresh parsley for the best result.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: Using a really good quality olive oil will make all the difference!
  • Garlic (you can easily omit this if you are not a garlic fan).
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pasta: Any pasta is good: whole wheat pasta, chickpea pasta, gluten-free pasta. I used farfalle (butterfly) pasta, as it goes quite well with the spring theme, but this pesto works really well with long pasta like spaghetti or linguine. Just use your favorite pasta!
Top view of ingredients needed for asparagus pesto pasta

How to make asparagus pesto pasta

1. Prepare the asparagus. If needed, remove the woody ends by chopping off 1-2 inches from the bottom. We don’t want anything fibrous in our pesto! Then chop the asparagus into small bits, wash them, and blanch them in boiling water you have previously salted for about 5 minutes until nice and tender. Drain them and rinse them under cold water to stop them from cooking. Set the tips aside as we will use them for decoration.

2. In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instruction. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

3. Add the pistachios (or nut of your choice) to your blender or food processor and blitz.

4. Then add the rest of the ingredients: asparagus, garlic, lemon juice, parsley leaves, olive oil, a pinch of salt, and pepper. Puree until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.

5. Mix the pasta with the asparagus pesto and toss well until combined. If needed, add some of the cooking water you kept aside to make the pasta silky and saucy. Add the asparagus tips you kept on the side, sprinkle with lemon zest, and serve while hot.

Blender with asparagus pesto

Asparagus pesto pasta tips

  • Make sure you use only the freshest asparagus in season to make this pasta.
  • You can use any nuts you like: cashews, pine nuts, or almonds.
  • This pesto can be made chunky or smooth, depending on how long you process it and how powerful your food processor or blender is. I prefer my pesto on the crunchier side, but feel free to process it for longer if you like yours extra smooth.
  • You can also add 1/2 cup (40 grams) of parmesan for a more cheesy flavor (real parmesan or a vegan alternative). I prefer this recipe without, as the taste of the fresh asparagus and lemon shines through the dish. 
close up of hands picking up some asparagus pasta with a fork from a plate
  • Make sure to save a bit of pasta cooking water. The starch contained in it will give your pesto pasta a silkier texture.
  • This pasta is also great as a cold pasta salad if you are planning a day out. 

How to store

Asparagus pesto is great for meal prep. You can store it in a glass jar:

  • In the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • In the freezer for up to 3 months.

If you have any leftovers, this pasta is also great to eat cold. Or you can warm it up in the microwave or a pot, adding a bit of water to loosen it up a bit.

Glass container filled with fresh asparagus pesto

Other ideas

This pesto is great with hot and cold pasta, stirred through risotto or soups, thinned with a bit of water as a salad dressing, or spread on bruschetta, sandwich, or toast.

It’s also delicious as a dip with some bread, oatcakes, or crunchy raw veggies.

Close up of asparagus pesto pasta in a plate

More Dinner Ideas

And if you liked this recipe, check out more quick and easy dinner ideas:

Also, check out these 50 Healthy Spring Dinner Ideas!

Top view of plate full of asparagus pesto pasta
5 from 1 vote
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Asparagus Pesto Pasta

If you are a pesto lover looking for a spring twist on the classic recipe, this creamy and lemony asparagus pesto pasta is for you. Made with fresh asparagus, pistachio nuts, parsley, and a hint of lemon, this quick and easy mouthwatering spring meal is going to become your new favorite.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 492kcal
Author: Sara Trezzi

Ingredients

  • 1 lb asparagus
  • ½ cup pistachio nuts - (see note 1)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest - (from 1 lemon)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove - small, optional
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 12 oz pasta of choice - farfalle, penne, spaghetti, rigatoni, linguine

Instructions

  • Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Chop the asparagus into small bits, making sure to remove and discard the fibrous ends if needed. Wash them, and blanch them in the boiling water for about 5 minutes until slightly tender. Drain the asparagus and rinse them under cold water to stop them from cooking. Set the asparagus tips aside as we will use them for decoration.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instruction. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
  • Add the pistachios (or nut of your choice) to your blender or food processor and blitz.
  • Then add the cooked asparagus, garlic, lemon juice, parsley leaves, olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  • Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and mix it with the asparagus pesto. Toss well until combined. Add some of the cooking water to the pasta to make the pasta silky and saucy. Plate the pasta, add the asparagus tips you kept on the side, sprinkle with lemon zest, and serve while hot.

Notes

Note 1: Make sure to use unsalted raw pistachios. If you don’t have pistachios, you can use other nuts like cashews, pine nuts, almonds.
Note 2: If you are a cheese lover, you can add 1/2 cup (40 grams) of parmesan for a more cheese flavor (real parmesan or vegan). But you’ll lose some of the lemony asparagus taste.
Note 3: This pesto is great with hot and cold pasta, stirred through risotto or soups, thinned with a bit of water as a salad dressing, or spread on bruschetta, sandwich, or toast. It’s also delicious as a dip with some bread, oatcakes, or crunchy raw veggies.
Storage: You can keep the asparagus pesto in a glass jar or airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 492kcal | Carbohydrates: 73g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 15g | Sugar: 6g

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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    It was super delicious!