Pic of Penne with asparagus and ricotta

Penne with asparagus and ricotta

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Vegetarian mains

Penne with asparagus and ricotta

Main Serves 4 20 min
A very quick vegetarian pasta recipe, this is elegant and fresh spring fare. It's a great way of stretching a bunch of asparagus to feed a group. For more greens, stir through some wilted spinach, blanched broad beans or peas, or a handful of rocket leaves.


  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
  • 150-200g ricotta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp Parmesan or Pecorino, grated
  • leaves of 1 small bunch basil, sliced into fine ribbons
  • zest of 1 small lemon
  • pinch nutmeg, grated
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed or finely chopped
  • ½ small glass dry white wine (or veg stock)
  • 400g penne or other dried pasta
  • salt and pepper


Prep time: 10 min
Cooking time: 10 min
  • Step 1

    Slice the asparagus stalks finely but keep the tips whole. Blanch the tips in fast boiling salted water for 1-2 minutes until just tender. Refresh immediately under cold water.
  • Step 2

    Put the ricotta, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan, basil, lemon zest and nutmeg into a large serving bowl. Season and mix gently.
  • Step 3

    Cook the pasta. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the asparagus stalks and stir fry for 2 minutes until just tender.
  • Step 4

    Add the garlic, stir and add the white wine. Bubble away for 2 mins until the wine is reduced to a syrupy sauce. Cool for a few minutes and add to the ricotta mix.
  • Step 5

    Drain the cooked pasta and add to the bowl. Toss well with the sauce until the pasta is well coated. Add more seasoning and olive oil to taste – lots of freshly ground black pepper works well.
  • Step 6

    Scatter over the blanched asparagus tips. Serve with the remaining Parmesan at the table.

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