What’s easier and more popular with your family than a creamy, cheesy pasta dish? Almost nothing! But how to make a healthy(ish) version that is still a hit with your family is the question I always come back to. Asparagus & parmesan to the rescue! ;-)

We all know the healthy benefits of asparagus; Cancer-fighting, detoxifying, & anti-aging, among others, asparagus is a super-food! Asparagus season may run through the spring months from March to June but it hits its prime in April. If you can get your hands on some quality in-season asparagus, give this recipe a try. The spotlight is on the star ingredient with a supporting cast of creamy white wine sauce, deeply infused with fragrant lemony notes and a nice salty Parmesan kick.

The key to acing this dish is to cook the asparagus until its tips are crispy and stalks slightly blistered. The slight char will add a whole other dimension to the enticing flavor of this vegetable.


1 lb. penne pasta

1 lb. thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2" pieces

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1/2 c. heavy cream

1 c. dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving

1/4 c. fresh parsley, finely chopped

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add penne and cook according to package directions, until al dente. Reserve ½ cup pasta water, then drain. Set aside.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Cook asparagus until crispy, then season with pinch of salt. Transfer to a plate and set aside. 

  3. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Cook onions and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes. Add heavy cream, white wine, lemon juice, and zest. Bring mixture to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Add in salt, Parmesan, and black pepper. Reduce heat to low and mix until well combined. 

  4. Turn off heat and mix in pasta, asparagus, and parsley until well coated. Add small amounts of pasta water until you reach desired consistency. Serve with more grated Parmesan, cracked black pepper, and red pepper flakes.

Serve it up and enjoy with your family on a busy night!