Tagliatelle alla crema di asparagi (Tagliatelle with Asparagus Purée)

Tagliatelle agli asparagi

Spring is a special time of year. There’s nothing that lifts a body’s spirits quite like the green shoots and gentle sun of spring. And then there’s the wonderful produce that starts to appear in our markets—tiny peas, artichokes, slender green asparagus, fava beans in their hefty pods, plump strawberries… Even in this age when you can get just about anything in any season, it still warms my heart. There is nothing like the taste of those first tender asparagus that appear in the spring. Between them and artichokes, I’d be hard pressed to say which I like better.

Asparagus makes for a great antipasto or second dish, but it can also serve as a delicious condimento for risotto or, even better in my opinion, pasta. We’ve already seen how to make asparagus lasagna—a fabulous if effortful dish. Here’s a quicker way to enjoy asparagus and pasta, something you can whip up in no more than 30 minutes tops (assuming you’re using store-bought pasta). For this dish, and most others, I prefer the thin ‘pencil’ asparagus. They don’t need peeling and have a more delicate flavor than their thicker cousins, but you can make this dish with either variety.


For 4-6 servings

  • Fresh egg pasta made with 4 eggs, cut into tagliatelle or 4 ‘nests’ of store-bought tagliatelle

For the sauce:

  • 2 bunches of fresh asparagus
  • 250 ml (1 cup) of heavy cream
  • 50g (2 oz) butter
  • Salt
  • 2 shallots (optional)

Grated parmigiano cheese


If using fresh egg pasta, roll it out very thin and cut it using the fettuccine/tagliatelle attachment of your pasta machine.

Trim and (if using fat asparagus, peel) your asparagus spears. Boil the asparagus in well-salted water until it is perfectly tender (not crisp-tender), about 5 minutes for thin asparagus, perhaps 7 for the thicker variety. (Test for doneness with a paring knife.)  Cut off the tips and reserve, putting the tipless spears into a food processor with the heavy cream and a pinch of salt. Process until you have a perfectly smooth purée.

In a wide skillet, melt the butter. If using the shallots, sauté them gently for a minute or two. Add the asparagus purée and let it simmer for just a few minutes, until it has warmed and slightly reduced. Turn off the heat.

Now boil your pasta in well-salted water until al dente. For freshly made egg pasta, just drop it the boiling water and let it come back to the boil. If your pasta has been rolled really thin, that should be enough. If not, you can let it go for a minute or two longer, no more. If using store-bought tagliatelle, follow the instructions on the box.

While the pasta is cooking, sauté the asparagus tips with a nut of butter, just long enough for them to absorb the butter and warm up. Do not let them brown.

When done, drain and transfer the pasta to the skillet, along with a small ladleful of the pasta water, and mix it well with the asparagus purée over low heat. Let the pasta absorb the purée until it is well coated but slight quite slithery. You can add more water if things feel ‘sticky’.

Serve with the sautéed tips on top, either in individual warmed plates or in a communal bowl for the table, with grated parmigiano on the side for those who like it.


Here’s a tip for some extra flavor: Boil your pasta in the water you used for the asparagus.

The asparagus purée sauce is also very nice with short, stubby pastas like penne or, better yet, its little sisters, pennette.

Another version of this dish has you sauté chopped asparagus in butter, tossed then with the pasta and grated parmigiano. It’s also wonderful, a bit lighter and even easier than this recipe. But the taste of puréed asparagus in a butter and cream reduction is something you really should try at least once. Trust me on this one..

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13 Responses to “Tagliatelle alla crema di asparagi (Tagliatelle with Asparagus Purée)”

  1. 21 April 2013 at 07:28 #

    So beautiful! I love the tip where you wrote to boil the pasta in the asparagus water! Looks delicious , I love asparagus!

  2. 18 April 2013 at 12:55 #

    I love the idea of pureeing the asparagus with cream and topping with the tips…perfect for spring.

  3. 16 April 2013 at 20:50 #

    Frank, this looks delicious! Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables, cold or hot. This is a dish I’ve got to try. YUM!!!

    I wanted to also ask you, how do you get your recipes in cookeatshare to show up directly from your website instead of the regular recipe page? I’ve asked cookeatshare, but they never replied. Thanks.

  4. 16 April 2013 at 16:20 #

    Hi Frank – my oh my this sounds so delicious. YAY for Spring cooking. Love the color!

  5. 16 April 2013 at 00:15 #

    I love asparagus too. I have made asparagus risotto but never pasta. Nice idea: I must try it. I saw the first fava beans of the season yesterday, but I think they were a bit too early. On the other hand, I confess to have already bought a whole bunch of strawberries ;)

  6. 15 April 2013 at 21:34 #

    The warm sun has yet to arrive here in the Midwest, but this dish does look like a perfect spring dish. I admit that I may be partial to the parmigiano version, but will take your advice and at least once try it with the butter and cream!

  7. 15 April 2013 at 05:40 #

    wow ! Che bel piatto Frank, c’è tutta la primavera dentro ! Buona settimana, un abbraccio !

  8. 14 April 2013 at 19:46 #

    I just threw all my asparagus in a springtime minnestrone. With asparagus being the only green I see these days, I am liking this. And if it ever stops snowing, I am getting more asparagus (and artichokes) and doing all.

  9. ciaochowlinda
    14 April 2013 at 19:40 #

    Yes, it sure is heartening to see those green shoots spring up from the soil. I’m with you on not being sure which I like better – asparagus or artichokes. But I do not I love what you’ve done with this pasta dish – the puree of asparagus really adds so much flavor.

  10. KarenB
    14 April 2013 at 19:07 #

    Yumza! Grazi
    Frank = fast & easy! I had 2 bunches of asparagus & didn’t know what to do with them = mi è piaciuto molto – did I say GRAZI ?

  11. 14 April 2013 at 18:46 #

    Frank, this sounds delightful. I too delight in seeing the tiny new vegetables at this time of year. I always go for the asparagus. Thanks for a lovely dish.

  12. 14 April 2013 at 18:12 #

    Oh, my gosh, Frank! I love asparagus so much and this looks like an amazing way to have it! Thanks!


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