Riverford Wicked Leeks
Penne with asparagus and ricotta recipe image

Print Penne with asparagus and ricotta

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 & pepper


  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  6. Scatter over the blanched asparagus tips. Serve with the remaining Parmesan at the table.
want to cook with fresh ingredients? try one of our award winning veg boxes