This rich and creamy pasta with asparagus combines the smoky flavor of pancetta with the creaminess of cream and a blend of cheeses!
I have been on a bit of an “asparagus bender” lately. It happens every year around this time when the price of asparagus just drops to $1.99 per pound and I end up eating it 3 or 4 times per week!
Usually, I just make some roasted asparagus, but last week I made creamy asparagus and pea soup and it was just fabulous. This week, I wanted to step out of my comfort zone again and ended up making this carbonara pasta with asparagus and it was just amazing!
This isn't a “traditional carbonara” recipe in that I didn't use an egg. Instead, I used heavy cream to give this pasta with asparagus its creaminess. I know that some will say that it is technically an alfredo sauce, but in my mind, once you add the pancetta in to the recipe, it tastes more like a carbonara!
And let's talk about the pancetta. For the last few years, I have been buying the pancetta that is already diced for you. I know that most people are “conditioned” to think that it is always more expensive to buy the pre-cut meats and vegetables, but I have found that the pre-packaged diced pancetta (I buy it in the deli section) has much less fat in it than if you try to get a chunk of pancetta from the deli counter. Whenever I buy it from the deli counter, it seems that I am throwing half of it away because it is all fat!
And yes – if you don't have pancetta, you can substitute bacon, just make sure that you drain most of the grease out before adding the wine and cream!
This cooks up pretty quickly. I can really make the entire sauce in less time than it takes for the pasta water to come to a boil and the pasta to cook!
Scroll down for the recipe!
- ½ cup diced pancetta (about 4 oz)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small shallot, diced
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- 1 cup heavy cream (you can substitute half & half)
- 12 oz penne or rotini
- 1 lb fresh asparagus, ends trimmed and cut in to 1-inch pieces
- ½ cup grated Italian Blend (Parmesan/Romano/Pecorino) or Parmesan cheese + additional for topping
- zest from ½ lemon
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil
- In a large skillet, cook the pancetta over medium heat until most of the fat is rendered and it is browned.
- Add the garlic and shallots and cook until they begin to soften.
- Reduce the heat and add the wine. Cook for about a minute. Add the heavy cream and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cheese and lemon zest and stir to remove any lumps.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions, adding the asparagus in the last 2 minutes of cooking.
- Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta and asparagus.
- Add the pasta and asparagus to the cream sauce and stir to coat.
- If the sauce seems too thick, add some of the reserved pasta water to "loosen it up" until it is the right consistency.
- Serve and enjoy!