Springtime Asparagus-Tomato Pasta is a perfect weeknight meal for Spring and early Summer, when fresh asparagus is available at the farmers’ market. Eat the leftovers cold for a light pasta salad!
I just adore fresh asparagus in the Spring and early Summer. It’s always the first thing I buy at the farmers’ market. I use it as a simple side dish, in frittatas, and, of course, in Springtime Asparagus-Tomato Pasta.
How do I choose asparagus?
The asparagus you choose should be bright green. The stalks shouldn’t be shriveled at all, and should be moist on the ends. The tips should be closed tightly: no seeds.
When you get the asparagus home, I recommend that you snap off the woody bottoms: if you bend the end of the asparagus up sharply, it will break where the woody part stops and the tender part of the spear begins.
To store your asparagus, submerge the lower ~1/2 inch of the stalks in water. Asparagus will keep a surprisingly long time in the refrigerator if you prep and store it this way.
Thick or thin stalks?
Both are good. It just depends on what you intend to do with the asparagus. If you’re simply sautéing or steaming it, go for thin. Cook until crisp-tender. For our purposes (roasting), I’d suggest choosing thicker stalks. They’ll develop delicious caramelization on the outside, but won’t be mushy or shriveled. Thicker stalks are also a good choice for grilling.
How to make Springtime Asparagus-Tomato Pasta
Be sure to check out my preparation collage and video (below)!
- coarse sea salt
- garlic (2–3 cloves, depending on your preference)
- pepper flakes (optional)
- large bunch of asparagus
- tube pasta (I like rotini, but you could use penne just as well)
- cherry or grape tomatoes (I like to use the multi-colored snack tomatoes because they’re gorgeous and each type has its own distinctive flavor)
- freshly ground black pepper
- extra-virgin olive oil.
Preheat your oven to 375º. Prep the asparagus by snapping off the woody ends and laying the spears on a foil-lined baking sheet (#2 in the collage below). Sprinkle with salt and pepper; drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Toss (#3). Place in the oven and bake 8 minutes (see step #7).
Meanwhile, gently sauté the garlic and pepper flakes in the olive oil over low heat (#5). Boil the pasta according to package directions, stopping 2 minutes short of the directed time for al dente (#6).
Flip the asparagus and bake for an additional 5–7 minutes, until lightly browned and crisp-tender (#7). Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water (#8). Drain the pasta and add to the skillet with the olive oil mixture (#9). Add the reserved pasta water (#10; alternatively, you can make this a wine sauce by adding 1/4 white wine like pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc).
Stir the pasta and lid for 2 minutes. Add the asparagus and tomatoes (#11). Toss to combine; serve (#12).
This dish is done in 30 minutes flat, so it’s perfect for a weeknight.
The recipe as described above is vegan. However, if you’re not following a vegan or vegetarian diet, you could add feta or Romano cheese when you toss the pasta. Or, add a vegan-friendly cheese to kick it up another notch.Leftovers of this pasta are fantastic cold, and make a delightful, light pasta salad. Seriously: it’s good enough to take to a potluck!
That’s it! I hope you love this weeknight-friendly pasta as much as we do. For more vegan-friendly weeknight dishes, check out my Vegan Pantry Tomato Soup with Homemade Croutons, One-Pot Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff, and Vegan Pantry Marinara Sauce.
Stay safe. Stay well.
Springtime Asparagus-Tomato Pasta
- 1 large bunch asparagus
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt, plus more for pasta water
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves - finely minced (if you like a lot of garlic use 3 cloves)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tbsp - (divided)
- 1/8 tsp pepper flakes - (optional)
- 1 lb tube pasta - (like rotini, rigatoni, or penne)
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1/4 cup white wine - (optional; see Recipe Note #1)
- 1/2 cup feta cheese - (optional; see Recipe Note #2)
- Preheat oven to 375º. Prep the asparagus by snapping off the woody ends and laying the spears on a foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil; toss to combine. Place in the oven and bake 8 minutes, then flip and bake until lightly browned and crisp-tender, another 6–7 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil. Gently sauté the garlic and pepper flakes in the olive oil over low heat. Boil the pasta according to package directions, stopping 2 minutes short of the directed time for al dente.
- Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and add to the skillet with the olive oil mixture. Add the reserved pasta water (or see Recipe Note #1). Stir the pasta and lid for 2 minutes. Add the asparagus and tomatoes; toss to combine. Sprinkle with feta cheese (if using) and serve.
- Sometimes I like to make this pasta fancier by substituting white wine for the pasta water. I use 1/4 cup of pinot grigio or cabernet sauvignon. Just before adding the pasta to the skillet, I turn the heat to high and add the wine, stirring vigorously. Then I tip in the pasta, mix well, reduce the heat to low, and lid for 2 minutes. Then I proceed with the rest of the recipe.
- This recipe is vegan unless you choose to add cheese. You could also opt for a vegan-friendly cheese, like a Parmesan alternative..