Asparagus is the star ingredient in this delightful pasta dinner. Don't be afraid of the whole milk in the recipe, it's necessary to make the sauce thick and creamy.
Lemon zest, tarragon, and grainy mustard ensure that it's not overly rich but fresh and flavorful. Whole-wheat pasta adds another healthy and well-balanced dimension. For the vegetarian recipe,
8 ounces whole-wheat penne pasta
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups whole milk
4 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
4 teaspoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 3 minutes less than the package directions. Add asparagus and continue cooking until the pasta and asparagus are just tender, 3 minutes more. Drain and return to the pot.
- Meanwhile, whisk milk, mustard, flour, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
- Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant and lightly browned, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Whisk in the milk mixture. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Stir in tarragon, lemon zest and juice.
- Stir the sauce into the pasta-asparagus mixture. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sauce is thick, creamy and coats the pasta, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan. Divide the pasta among 4 bowls and top with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.
- Pasta, Main Dishes