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Hearty Dinners/ Pasta/ Pork

Asparagus Pancetta Pasta

April 25, 2024 by Chris Collins

This delicious asparagus pasta is creamy, full of flavour and beyond simple to make!

This is fast becoming one of my favourite pasta dishes (and you know how many I have!). Not only for its simplicity, but it’s got such a lovely, light and vibrant flavour. I think you’re going to love it 😊 Follow me…

close up shot of asparagus pasta in large pan

Asparagus Pancetta Pasta

Like all good things in life, this dish starts by rendering down the fat of some pancetta. This process not only helps the pancetta crisp up, but the excess fat adds loads of flavour AND is perfect for frying the asparagus.

What kind of asparagus am I looking for?

I typically grab a couple of bunches of ‘fine’ asparagus tips, but thicker ones will work just fine. In all cases, you’ll want to trim off the firm woody ends and dice the rest into chunks.

Asparagus Pasta Sauce

The sauce is made up of mascarpone and stock. The sauce is quite rich and salty, so I love adding a squeeze of lemon juice to balance everything out.

There isn’t a huge amount of sauce before you add the pasta, but the excess water the pasta brings with it will thin out the sauce and help turn it thick and glossy. Just add in a splash more water if you need to loosen up the pasta.

Process shots: fry pancetta (photo 1), fry asparagus (photo 2), fry spring onion and garlic (photo 3), add stock and mascarpone (photo 4), add basil, parmesan and lemon juice (photo 5), toss in pasta (photo 6).

6 step by step photos showing how to make asparagus pasta

Asparagus Pasta FAQ

Do I have to add the pancetta?

The pancetta adds so much flavour to the dish, I fear it won’t be as good without it. If you want to try it without consider doubling the parmesan to make up for the loss of flavour and season generously to taste.

What texture should the asparagus be?

I like mine al dente, but if you like it on the softer side just fry it a little longer. Just remember it’ll carry on cooking slightly as you make the sauce.

What kind of stock should I use?

I use either chicken or veg stock, whatever I’ve got on hand. Both work great!

What kind of pasta should I use?

Here I use linguine, but any kind of long-cut pasta should do the trick!

close up shot of asparagus pasta in pan

Serving Asparagus Pancetta Pasta

Once the sauce is thick and glossy, plate up right away (the sauce will thicken up quite quickly). From there, I love some extra basil to garnish. You could also serve with more lemon juice and/or parmesan if you’d like.

For more asparagus pasta recipes check out my Baked Feta Orzo and Creamy One Pot Pasta!

Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this asparagus pasta shall we?!

overhead shot of asparagus pancetta pasta in large white bowl garnished with fresh basil leaves

How to make Asparagus Pasta (Full Recipe & Video)

asparagus pasta in large pan

Asparagus Pancetta Pasta

This delicious asparagus pasta is creamy, full of flavour and beyond simple to make!
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Servings (click & slide): 4
Course: Dinner / Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Calories per serving: 672kcal
Cost per serving: £3 / $4

Equipment:

  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
  • Large Pan & Wooden Spoon
  • Large Pot & Tongs (for cooking pasta)
  • Jug (for stock)
  • Fine Cheese Grater

Ingredients (check list):

  • 200g / 7oz diced Pancetta
  • 350g / 12.3oz Linguine (or other long-cut pasta)
  • 300g / 10.5oz Asparagus, woody ends trimmed then diced into large chunks
  • 2 Springs Onions, thinly sliced then separated into white/dark green parts
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, finely diced
  • 180ml / 3/4 cup Chicken or Veg Stock
  • 150g / 5.3oz full fat Mascarpone
  • 1/2 bunch of Fresh Basil, roughly diced (plus more to serve if desired)
  • 20g / 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more to serve if desired
  • 1/2 Lemon, juice only
  • Salt & Black Pepper, as needed

Instructions:

  • Add the pancetta to a large pan with the heat off. Turn to medium and fry until most of the fat has rendered down and it's pretty crispy. Lower the heat slightly if it's browning too quickly without the fat rendering out.
  • At this point pop the pasta in salted boiling water and cook until al dente. Don't drain.
  • Add the asparagus in with the pancetta and fry until it begins to soften, approx 3-4mins depending on the thickness of the asparagus (it will continue cooking slightly as you make the sauce). Add the garlic and white part of the spring onion and fry for a minute or so.
  • Add the stock and stir in the mascarpone until it melts. Stir in the basil, parmesan, remaining spring onion and a squeeze of lemon juice. Bring to a gentle simmer and check for seasoning (I typically do 1/4-1/2 tsp pepper and just a pinch of salt).
  • As the sauce begins to thicken, use tongs to transfer the cooked pasta straight from the pot into the pan, embracing any excess water it brings with it. Turn the heat to low and toss the pasta in the sauce until it thickens and is no longer watery. The end result should be a creamy, glossy sauce that clings to the pasta (add more of the leftover pasta water to thin it out if needed). You can add more lemon juice at this point if you'd like.
  • Plate up with extra parmesan and basil if desired, then tuck in and enjoy!

Quick 1 min demo!

Notes:

a) Asparagus - I typically use fine asparagus tips and prefer the texture to be al dente, so you won't need to fry them for long. Especially because they continue cooking slightly. Do work to preference though and if you like asparagus on the softer side just fry for a little longer. 
b) Pancetta - Important to gently render down the fat and certainly don't drain it away - this adds lots of flavour to the sauce! Most supermarkets sell the little double-packs of pancetta, usually in the cooked meats section. You could sub bacon though. Just make sure it's streaky bacon so you get the added fat.
c) Seasoning - The pancetta, parmesan and stock add quite a bit of saltiness, so I tend not to add much more in. In fact it might taste a little salty at the start, but remember you've got the pasta to add in. This recipe can take a good bit of black pepper though - I recommend starting with 1/4 tsp and working up.
d) Calories - Whole recipe divided by 4.

Your Private Notes:

Nutrition:

Nutrition Facts
Asparagus Pancetta Pasta
Amount Per Serving
Calories 672 Calories from Fat 306
% Daily Value*
Fat 34.04g52%
Saturated Fat 8.006g40%
Trans Fat 0.055g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.326g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.948g
Cholesterol 39mg13%
Sodium 516mg22%
Potassium 732mg21%
Carbohydrates 75.91g25%
Fiber 11.3g45%
Sugar 3.35g4%
Protein 19.03g38%
Vitamin A 1182IU24%
Vitamin C 7.3mg9%
Calcium 108mg11%
Iron 3.14mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition is based on the absence of salt unless stated as a measurement in the ingredients. Cost is worked out based on ingredients bought from UK supermarkets, then divided by the number of servings. In both instances these values are just for guidance. Please check out my FAQ Page for more info.
Tried this recipe?Show me how you got on by tagging @dontgobaconmyheart_ on IG and #dontgobaconmyheart
Looking for more?You'll find plenty more delicious comfort food like this in my Debut Cookbook 'Comfy'

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