Heavenly Asparagus Pasta Tossed with Crispy Prosciutto

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Spring has finally arrived, and with it comes an abundance of fresh, vibrant produce. Especially some early spring asparagus. There’s no better way to celebrate the season than with a plate of sauteed asparagus pasta adorned with salty, crispy prosciutto and a bit of parmesan cheese.

This deceptively simple dish is a flavor revelation. Every forkful combines the bright notes of asparagus with a rich and tangy lemon sauce and the savory, crunchy prosciutto that adds an irresistible textural contrast. It’s a harmonious blend of flavors and textures.

A plate of tangy asparagus pasta with crispy prosciutto and parm

Pasta that packs a serious flavor punch. Each bite is an indulgent escape into springtime bliss. So go ahead and treat yourself to a truly heavenly pasta experience that lets the bounty of the season shine. This pasta is a game-changer. Trust me, once you try it, you’ll be hooked.

Ingredients for Sauteed Asparagus Pasta

Let’s chat about our delightful dish’s key actors. We’ve got fresh asparagus spears – they’re the stars, of course. Then, pasta, it’s their perfect supporting act. We’re adding slices of prosciutto for that needed savory touch. To brighten it all up, we’ll bring in some zesty lemons. And, let’s not forget the parmesan, it’s the final flourish that ties everything together. Can’t wait to see how these all come together, can you?

Fresh Asparagus Spears

You’ll need about a pound of fresh asparagus spears. When choosing them at the market, look for asparagus that’s bright green with firm, straight stalks. Avoid any that’s limp or discolored. To prepare, simply cut off the tough, woody ends. I tend to prefer thinner asparagus. but this recipe will work with asparagus of all sizes.

Asparagus adds that delightful earthy flavor and crisp texture, which works wonders with the pasta and prosciutto.


Pasta is our blank canvas today. It is a humble ingredient that can be quite magical when cooked right. You’re free to choose your favorite kind – spaghetti, fettuccine, farfalle. I went with a simple penne pasta.

Remember to cook your pasta al dente. The term al dente means ‘to the tooth’ in Italian, and it’s how pasta should be cooked – firm to the bite. This way, it’ll hold up to the sauce we’ll be adding later.

Also, don’t forget to salt your pasta water generously – it’s your only chance to season the pasta itself. Trust me, you’ll notice the difference.

Cooked asparagus pasta primavera and crispy prosciutto arranged on a white plate

Slices of Prosciutto

This ingredient adds a delightful twist to our dish. Thin, delicate slices of this cured ham will add a rich, salty contrast to the fresh asparagus, pepping up our pasta dish. You’ll need about 5 to 6 slices, but hey, don’t hesitate to add a couple more if you’re a big fan.

For this recipe. the best prosciutto is thinly sliced and nearly transparent. The thin slices will crisp up perfectly. It’s so flavorful that you don’t need much to make a big impact. When you toss it into the pasta, it’ll mingle with the other ingredients, creating a beautiful symphony of flavors. The addition of prosciutto will take your pasta from good to absolutely mouthwatering.


Though it might seem like a small part of the recipe, this citrusy delight is key. Small but mighty and packing a big punch, the lemon juice and zest will cut through the richness of the prosciutto and parmesan, providing a refreshing contrast.

Look for lemons that feel heavy for their size – these are the ones that’ll give you the most juice.


Don’t settle for the pre-grated stuff. It’s not even real. Trust me, it’s worth the extra effort to get a block and grate it yourself. The flavor will be incomparably rich, nutty, and salty.

Remember, while you may be tempted to go overboard with the Parmesan, moderation is key here. A little goes a long way and you don’t want to overpower the delicate flavors of the asparagus and prosciutto. But hey, who am I kidding? There’s no such thing as too much cheese, right…

All About the Lemons

Now, let’s delve into the heart of lemons, shall we? We’ll start off with zesting. Trust me, it’s not as complicated as it sounds! After that, we’ll squeeze our way into the juicy world of extracting that citrus goodness.

Sliced lemon, chopped shallot, and minced garlic ready to make the sauce for our seasonal asparagus pasta


If you’ve never zested a lemon before, don’t fret, it’s super easy. All you need is a fine grater or zester.

When it comes to zesting, the trick is to grate only the bright yellow outer layer of the peel – that’s where all the flavor is. Avoid the white pith underneath as it can be quite bitter. Now, if you’re wondering what to do with lemon zest, it’s a fantastic addition to almost any dish, sweet or savory. It adds a bright, fresh flavor that’s hard to replicate. It really infuses this sauce with lemon flavor.

Keep in mind, before zesting, always give your lemons a good wash.


There’s something wonderfully therapeutic about juicing a lemon. The aroma, the burst of fresh juice, it’s a sensory experience. Cut it in half and use any kind of juicer you have on hand, from a simple hand-held reamer to a more elaborate electric juicer. Or just squeezing it together with your hands.

I then like to use my smallest strainer to get out any seeds or lemon chunks. This leaves me with smooth, pure lemon juice for the sauce.

Preparing the Asparagus

Close-up of freshly chopped and washed asparagus spears for spring lemon pasta

Washing and Trimming

Before we dive into the methods of preparing these green beauties, it’s important that they’re washed and trimmed properly.

First, let’s talk about washing. It’s just like giving your asparagus a little shower. Run them under a stream of cool water, making sure each spear is well rinsed. A gentle scrub with your fingers can help to dislodge any stubborn dirt.

Now, the bottom of the asparagus is tough and woody. It is unpleasant to chew because it just refuses to break down, believe me. So to get the tender part of the plant, we’ll cut one to two inches off of the bottom.

Cutting Asparagus into Desired Lengths

With the asparagus stalks washed and trimmed, it’s time to cut them into the desired lengths.

Unlike my roasted asparagus recipe, we won’t be leaving the asparagus whole. Cut the asparagus, aiming for pieces about 2 inches long – a good bite size. The goal is to be able to easily eat the asparagus with the pasta. A whole asparagus spear would be a bit unwieldy mixed in with the penne pasta here.

Sauteing Asparagus for Pasta

This is a little bit out of order, as we’ll actually cook the asparagus after having crisped the prosciutto. But we’re already focused on asparagus so I decided it was okay. And, ultimately, I’m in charge here. So don’t question me.

Sautéed asparagus for the seasonal asparagus pasta

Add a tablespoon of the butter to the pan and let it melt on medium heat. Remember, because we’ll actually cook this after the prosciutto we should have some of the rendered fat from that in the pan still.

Add all of the sliced asparagus to the pan and let it cook, stirring occasionally, until the spears are tender but still firm. We don’t want to cook it to mush. It should have a little bit of bite, but be a nice and light crunch. It should only take about four minutes in the pan as long as you haven’t overcrowded.

Crisping the Prosciutto

This prosciutto is really the secret ingredient of this whole dish. The crispy, crunchy, salty goodness of this cured meat is what will set this dish apart from so many other pasta dishes. So it is important to get this right. Don’t mess up.

Thin prosciutto makes a unique addition to this sauteed asparagus pasta

Getting Thin Prosciutto

Luckily, prosciutto is typically served rather thinly sliced. Just make sure when selecting it from the store or deli counter that you get it as thin as possible.

When you’re at the deli counter, ask for prosciutto that’s sliced paper-thin. This isn’t just about ease of cooking; it’s about the texture and how it crisps up. The thinner the slice, the crispier it will get, and let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like the crunch of perfectly crisped prosciutto.

Into the Frying Pan

You’re going to want to pop a large frying pan onto the stove at a medium heat. Since prosciutto is relatively fatty in and of itself I decided to forgo any added oil. If you’re worried about it sticking to the pan, you can add a small amount of oil to the pan before adding the prosciutto. But I don’t think it is necessary.

Once the pan is heated, gently lay the slices of prosciutto onto the pan. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan, each slice should have its own little space. This will ensure even cooking and that perfect crispness we’re aiming for.

Soon you’ll see the prosciutto start to sizzle and change color – a sure sign that deliciousness is just around the corner!

Golden brown crispy prosciutto pieces for the tangy asparagus pasta recipe

Achieving Perfect Crispness

Knowing when prosciutto has achieved that perfect crispness can be a bit tricky. You’re aiming for a delicate balance – with a texture that’s reminiscent of a thin, crisp autumn leaf, and not a charred piece of toast. It’s important to remember that prosciutto will continue to crisp up even after it’s removed from the heat, so don’t be alarmed if it seems a tad soft when you first take it out of the pan.

Keep a close eye, and when you see it turning a lovely shade of golden brown-red, that’s your cue to remove it. Let it rest for a bit on a paper towel to drain any excess oil and allow it to continue crisping up.

Cooking the Sauce

This bright, luscious sauce is the perfect counterpart to the crispy prosciutto and tender asparagus. While it has several components, the steps flow seamlessly together.

Begin by melting a few tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium heat. With the butter melted, add the minced shallot and garlic. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the aromatics are fragrant and softened. The shallot should start to become translucent.

Next, deglaze the pan with a bit of white wine, lemon juice, and zest. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom – this is where great flavor lies. Especially anything left from when we crisped up the prosciutto. Let the liquids simmer and reduce.

Once the wine has nearly evaporated, sprinkle in the flour and whisk continuously to form a smooth roux (I always love an excuse to use the site’s namesake in a recipe). This thickening agent will help create a velvety smooth sauce.

Slowly stream in the warm chicken stock while whisking vigorously to prevent lumps. The liquid will quickly thicken into a creamy sauce. Let the sauce gently simmer for 5-7 minutes, whisking regularly, until thickened to your desired consistency. During this time, the sauce will take on a beautiful glossy shine.

Combining the Ingredients

Now, it’s time to bring everything together. Our five main parts will come together to make a delicious tangy asparagus pasta. At this point, we should have the cooked pasta, sauteed asparagus, crispy prosciutto, grated parm, and the lemony sauce ready to go.

Pasta ready to be tossed with asparagus and prosciutto in a serving bowl to make the sauteed asparagus pasta

Tossing the Pasta with Asparagus and Sauce

Add the cooked, drained pasta and sauteed asparagus to a large serving bowl. Make sure there’s enough room in the bowl for everything. Top the sauteed asparagus pasta by pouring over the finished lemon sauce.

Gently mix together the pasta, asparagus, and sauce. You’ll want to try to evenly coat all of the pasta and asparagus. And make sure that the asparagus is distributed well throughout the pasta. It’s a simple step, but a crucial one. It’s during this tossing process that the flavors start to meld and the foundation of our dish is built.

There you have it, a sauteed asparagus pasta ready to go. But before we finish we have a bit more flavor to add to the mix.

Adding Crispy Prosciutto and Parmesan

Now, remember that crispy prosciutto we set aside earlier? Well, it’s time to bring it back into play.

Crumble the crispy prosciutto gently over our spring lemon pasta mix. It’s now time to add an extra sprinkle of comfort: parmesan cheese.

Let’s make sure each bite has a hint of that salty goodness. You’re spreading little pockets of flavor with every piece you add. Stir the prosciutto and parmesan into the pasta so it’s well-mixed. It’s a harmony of textures – the softness of the pasta, the crunch of the asparagus, and now, the crispness of the prosciutto.

Save a little bit of both the prosciutto and parmesan to use while topping the plated dishes. It makes for a nice final touch to add a bit on top.

Plating and Pairing our Tangy Asparagus Pasta

Time to dive into plating and garnishing!

Garnishing isn’t just about making dishes look pretty. It’s also about enhancing flavors and creating a complete sensory experience. You may want to reserve some of the prosciutto and parmesan to use as a final topping for each portion. Since they’re already part of the dish, they make great options for finishing off the pasta.

Plated dish of heavenly spring lemon pasta with crispy prosciutto and asparagus

Another one of my favorite garnishes is fresh herbs. The likes of basil, parsley, or mint can add a level of sophistication and aroma to your dish. Citrus is another excellent option. A well-placed lemon wedge or a twirl of lemon peel can brighten up a dish and provide a subtle flavor kick.

Remember, garnishing is your chance to show off your creativity and personal style. So, don’t be afraid to experiment and have a little fun with it.

What to Serve with Asparagus Pasta?

After we’ve spiced our meals to perfection, we get to the exciting part – serving. Now, I’ve got some serving suggestions that’ll make your meals a hit at any gathering. I’m a big believer in variety.

Try pairing it with a crusty loaf of bread or some homemade dinner rolls. Or add on a soup or salad to keep the meal light – like this simple and refreshing salad or a lemon orzo soup. And you can also add on more fresh veggies with sides like this garlic and basil snow peas recipe.

Consider the time of year. If you are truly taking advantage of this seasonal asparagus pasta then try to pair it with some spring-inspired flavors.

There you have it! It’s a pure joy preparing this sauteed asparagus pasta dish, packed with the freshness of asparagus and the crunch of prosciutto. It’s surprising how simple ingredients can come together to make something so heavenly.

How did yours turn out?

I’d love to hear when you try out this tangy asparagus pasta! Take a pic of your food and share your success with me by adding it to your Instagram stories or feed, and tagging me @doyouroux, or by using #doyouroux.

Plus, leave a rating to let me know how you liked the recipe. It helps me out a lot to know how things worked out… or didn’t.

Asparagus Pasta Tossed with Crispy Prosciutto

Recipe by Marc PetersonCourse: Entree, Main, PastaDifficulty: Intermediate


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This spring sauteed asparagus pasta recipe combines noodles with a tangy lemon sauce, finished with crispy prosciutto for the ultimate indulgence.


  • 1 large lemon

  • 1 pound asparagus

  • 1 shallot

  • 3 large cloves garlic

  • 16 ounces dry pasta

  • 3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, divided

  • 1/2 cup white wine

  • 2 cups chicken stock

  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan


  • Thoroughly wash the lemon then zest it, avoiding the bitter white pith, and juice it
  • Wash the asparagus, trim off the woody ends, and then slice into bite-sized pieces 1 to 2 inches long
  • Finely chop the shallot and mince the garlic
  • Cook the pasta according to the package directions until it reaches the desired level of tenderness then drain and set aside
  • While preparing to cook the pasta, add the prosciutto slices in a single layer to a large frying pan over medium heat, and cook them until they become crispy and golden brown flipping partway through, about 4 minutes total (work in batches if necessary to keep a single layer in the pan)
  • Once crispy, remove the prosciutto from the pan and set it aside on a paper towel-lined plate to cool then crumble or chop the prosciutto into bite-sized pieces for later use
  • In the same pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter then add the sliced asparagus and cook for 3-4 minutes until they become tender yet still slightly crisp – remove the asparagus from the pan and set it aside for later
  • In the skillet, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat then add the shallots and garlic, sautéing them about 2 minutes until soft and fragrant
  • Deglaze the skillet by adding white wine, lemon juice, and lemon zest, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan and simmering until reduced to about 1/3 volume – about 8 to 10 minutes
  • Sprinkle the flour into the pan stirring constantly to create a roux then cook the roux for 2-3 minutes until it becomes golden brown and develops a nutty aroma
  • Slowly whisk in the chicken stock, bring it to a low boil, then reduce to a simmer while stirring until it reaches the desired thickness – about 10 minutes
  • Add the cooked pasta and asparagus to a large serving bowl then top it with the lemon sauce and mix evenly
  • Top the pasta with the crumbled prosciutto and shredded parmesan then gently toss together until evenly combined
  • Serve immediately, garnished with additional lemon zest, parmesan, or crispy prosciutto


  • Adding some peas into this pasta sounds like a great idea. Let me know if you try this.

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