Recipe: Garlic Butter Pasta with Asparagus and Peas

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(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

If there’s one time of year when it’s extra easy to eat your greens, it’s spring. Take a trip to the farmers market and you’ll quickly discover that the stalls are overloaded with greens of every sort. There are bunches of asparagus, bags and bags of baby lettuces, every kind of green pea, and more. After a long winter, the vibrancy is pure medicine.

My favorite way to take in as much of this great produce at once is to load it into a fresh, vegetable-forward pasta dinner. This recipe is a true celebration of the season, thanks to the tender asparagus, green peas, and just-wilted arugula, all of which get tossed in garlic butter spiked with lemon. Finish it off with lots of grated cheese, and you’ve got a dinner that’s fast, fancy, and so fittingly spring.

A Simple Pasta That Celebrates Spring

If there’s just one pasta you make during this short season, let it be this one. It’s bursting with greens and begs to be served with that inaugural glass of cold rosé. Like all great pastas, this one is quick and easy enough to cook up on a busy weeknight, but also feels fancy enough for those warm evenings when you can’t help but invite your friends over for an impromptu dinner party.

Any long pasta shape will work well here, but I especially like bucatini. The thick spaghetti has a tiny hole running through it, which allows the noodles to soak up even more of the lemony garlic butter. I love the extra-salty, nutty bite of Pecorino Romano, although you can never go wrong with Parm if that’s what you have on hand.

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(Image credit: Leela Cyd)
416 Ratings

Garlic Butter Pasta

Serves6

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes to 13 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound

    dried bucatini or other long pasta (such as spaghetti or linguine)

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1 pound

    asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 3 cups)

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

  • 1 cup

    fresh or frozen peas

  • 3 cloves

    garlic, minced

  • Finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon

  • Juice of 1 medium lemon

  • 3 cups

    packed baby arugula

  • Freshly shaved or grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, for serving

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook 1 minute less than al dente, 8 minutes or according to package instructions. Meanwhile, cook the vegetables.

  2. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus, salt, and red pepper flakes, if using, and sauté until the asparagus is vibrant green and just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the peas and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice.

  3. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta. Return the skillet to medium heat and add the pasta, arugula, and reserved pasta water. Simmer, tossing and stirring the pasta, until the pasta is al dente, the arugula has wilted, and the sauce thickens and coats the pasta, 1 to 2 minutes. Divide among shallow bowls, top with Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, and serve.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

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