A simple asparagus pasta made special with creamy whipped ricotta cheese & homemade crispy toasted breadcrumbs. It’s lemony with fresh herb flavor and full of texture. Just the pasta recipe we need as we head into the summer months!
This asparagus pasta has a few steps, and uses a little bit of food processor work, but it is SO worth it. Let’s get right into the details…
You’ll start by making the breadcrumbs. I like using a bread for this like sourdough – something that’s crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. You’ll pulse the bread until it resembles coarse crumbs. Once they’re in crumb form, you’ll fry them in olive oil until golden brown and crisp. Just keep an eye on them so they don’t burn and transfer them to paper towels to drain when they’re done. A little sprinkling of lemon zest and salt goes over top for a pop of bright flavor. And trust me, making fresh homemade breadcrumbs is so much better than anything store-bought. Gives the pasta lots of texture.
Next up you’ll make the whipped ricotta, which is simple blending the ricotta with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt in the food processor. Easy as that.
The pasta part of this dish is really simple. The “sauce” is essentially just olive oil and lemon. You’ll quickly saute some sliced asparagus in a skillet and toss the orecchiette pasta right in when it’s done boiling. A squeeze of lemon is all it needs. You could use any shaped pasta, but I love how the orecchiette holds on to the ricotta and breadcrumbs.
And as for the garnishes…they are absolutely a must. With the pasta itself being so minimal, make sure to top with lots of fresh herbs, some good grated parmesan cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil to finish. Freshly cracked black pepper never hurts either.Print
Asparagus Pasta with Whipped Ricotta & Breadcrumbs
orecchiette pasta with sauteed asparagus, lemon, herbs, whipped ricotta, and homemade breadcrumbs
- 2 oz crusty bread, cubed (example: sourdough)
- olive oil
- 1 lemon, zested + juiced
- kosher salt
- 1 cup (8 oz) whole milk ricotta cheese
- ¼ lb orecchiette pasta
- ½ lb asparagus, ends cut + peeled + thinly sliced on an angle
- 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- any fresh soft herbs to garnish – basil, chives, tarragon, etc.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, add the bread to a small food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Heat a 12” skillet over medium heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once hot, add the breadcrumbs and toast until golden brown, stirring often. Transfer the breadcrumbs to a plate lined with paper towels (reserve the skillet) and immediately season with 1 tsp of lemon zest and a good pinch of salt.
- Wipe out the food processor and add the ricotta cheese, plus 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth and set aside.
- Season the pot of water with salt and drop the pasta in. Stir well and cook according to the package’s instructions.
- Meanwhile, wipe out the skillet and add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced asparagus. Saute for about 4-5 minutes until slightly caramelized and tender. Season with a pinch of salt.
- Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet. Stir in the lemon juice and toss well to combine. Spread the ricotta onto two plates. Mound the pasta over top. Garnish with the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, and a drizzle of olive oil.
I find this amount of ricotta to work well in most food processor sizes (I used a standard 8-cup bowl). If you don’t have enough ricotta, it will be difficult to blend, especially in larger food processors. However, you most likely won’t use all of the whipped ricotta for 2 servings. You can save any leftover in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It is great spread onto toast!