As we’ve continued to hunker down at home, our bean intake has increased. It’s not that we weren’t eating them before, it’s just I’m cooking many more meals than I had been. So, all this bean-ness is spilling over to the website.
That said, the beans in this asparagus pasta are secondary to everything else. The asparagus is prominent and shaved to resemble the pasta while the sauce is kept simple with parmesan, bean liquid, and pasta liquid if needed.
This pasta is excellent if you find yourself with some of the thicker asparagus stalks. I like using shaved asparagus because I can add it in at the end to keep some of the texture (I’m not one for overly cooked, sad asparagus). Barely cooking the shaved asparagus at the end gives it just enough notice, so it doesn’t get lost in the pasta.
This asparagus pasta is not one of those recipes I’m going to give you a ton of bean swaps. I think the small white beans work well. They aren’t in your face, so the asparagus gets to shine. They also break down a bit to where the starch helps create the creaminess of the sauce.
This recipe is one that benefits from the rich broth of homemade beans. However, you can easily use canned beans with or without their liquid. If you choose not to use the bean liquid, use a bit extra pasta broth to make the sauce.
Cheese/Keep it vegan
I took a bit of inspiration from this pasta recipe, which is 100% vegan and only uses beans to make a thick sauce. While I’d rather keep my beans as beans, using small white beans can easily break down into a sauce. I found whenever I eat this pasta; I rarely notice the beans because, with minimal effort, they already begin to blend.
If you want to keep this vegan, swap the butter for your favorite vegan-friendly swap (vegan butter/olive oil) and use about ½ cup more beans, mashed into a paste. The bean liquid thickens as well, creating a nice sauce to coat the noodles. You will probably want to add extra salt or vegan parmesan (given the lack of saltiness from the parmesan!)
¼ cup toasted hazelnuts, cracked
1/4 pound asparagus
4 ounces linguine or pappardelle
2 tablespoons butter
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 cup small white beans in their liquid (like navy beans)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon lemon zest
½ cup to 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced basil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Black Pepper, for topping
- First, place the hazelnuts in the oven and let roast until it is fragrant and golden; 12 to 15 minutes or so.
- Start the water and bring it to a boil and a separate skillet to make the pasta on the stovetop.
- Place a stalk of asparagus against a flat handle or spatula. Place the tip downward and your thumb securing the asparagus in place. Shave, down towards the counter. Repeat and flip the stalk as needed then repeat with remaining asparagus.
- Once the asparagus is good to go, add the pasta to the boiling water and start cooking. Cook according to the package directions.
- As the pasta is cooking, heat the skillet over medium heat and add the butter. Let melt then add the garlic. Cook until fragrant and just golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in the beans with their liquid and cook until the bean the liquid begins to thicken.
- Once this happens, transfer the cooked pasta to the pan, reserving some of the pasta water. Add the shaved asparagus now as well. Cook over low until the pasta combines with the beans and the asparagus is heated. Add a splash or two of water as needed to thin the sauce. Taste and add salt as needed.
- Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice, parmesan, and basil. Taste again and adjust the flavors if needed (more lemon, parmesan, or basil). Serve the black pepper, the toasted hazelnuts, and more cheese.
As mentioned in the post, you could make this vegan with help from more beans and using your favorite vegan butter swap. The bean liquid is really the key making the sauce, the parmesan just helps bring everything together.
Also, my general parmesan disclaimer. Parmesan is not typically vegetarian friendly. Any parmesan made in Europe has to contain animal rennet to be considered parmesan. However, there are a couple of brands in the United States making decent parmesan that uses vegetarian rennet. Just be sure to check the label.
Keywords: asparagus pasta