This garlicky Bacon Pasta includes a generous handful of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, a squeeze of fresh lemon, and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes as a perfect match to the fresh flavor of asparagus.
When I tell you that my family went crazy over this pasta, I’m not exaggerating. There were repeated happy sighs with two thumbs up around the table. I’ve already been asked to make it again.
I’d hoped to have a portion left to eat for lunch today, but there wasn’t a single noodle leftover after dinner. So, I’m writing this while dreaming of the pasta instead of eating it again.
Pasta with Asparagus and Lemon
There aren’t many vegetables that thrill me the way fresh asparagus does. There’s just something very special about it. Maybe that’s because I didn’t grow up eating it, but it simply makes me happy every time I’m cooking or eating it.
Have you ever wondered why lemon and asparagus work so well together? It seems like such an odd combination but tastes amazing. You know one of those combinations that sounds like it shouldn’t work but it actually does really well.
Lemon pasta with asparagus works so well because asparagus has a slightly bitter quality. Bitter actually balances best with something acidic. Hence the sourness of the lemon, balances the bitterness, brightening up the asparagus and bringing out its more butter-like qualities.
Pasta with Asparagus and Bacon
You will need these ingredients to make this recipe:
- linguini or thin spaghetti
- fresh asparagus
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- crushed red pepper flakes
- fresh lemon juice
- freshly grated Parmesan
- fresh Italian parsley
Bacon Asparagus Pasta
I’m sitting here staring down this recipe card laughing at the number of steps. At first glance, it looks so much more complicated than it is!
This is a straightforward recipe that comes together in 30-45 minutes, depending on whether or not you choose to use a pot and a skillet or cook everything in the same pot.
While there are a few steps involved, I’ve done my best to outline them below and I can promise you that this isn’t complicated!
Cook the pasta. Cook the bacon. Cook the asparagus in the bacon grease. (Seriously, don’t skip that bacon grease.)
Splash some pasta water in the pan to scrape up the browned bits and add red pepper and lemon juice to the pan. Add the pasta back to the pot and toss to coat. Add the bacon and asparagus to the pasta and mix them together.
Squeeze some more lemon juice, sprinkle with parsley and Parmesan, add some more pepper flakes if you’d like, and dive in with a fork.
There are a couple of different ways you can make this recipe. I make it both ways and don’t have a favorite. It honestly boils down to how much time I have most of the time.
Cutting the asparagus into 1-2 inch pieces will not only save time, but it will also provide a solid bite of asparagus flavor along with the pasta. This is the way the recipe below is written.
If I have an extra moment, I like to slice the asparagus into thin strips that I can twirl onto a fork along with the pasta. It’s a pretty approach to the recipe, but the asparagus flavor isn’t quite as strong this way.
If you choose to make the asparagus ribbons, they will only need to cook for a moment, so adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Asparagus with Bacon
Asparagus and bacon are often paired in recipes because they complement each other in terms of flavor and texture. When cooked together, the salty smokiness of the bacon balances the bitterness of the asparagus, creating a more well-rounded and satisfying dish.
Asparagus sauteed with bacon and red onions is a side dish that works well with nearly everything. Serve it with roast chicken, steak, or pork tenderloin and you’ll have a full meal worthy of company.
Crispy browned hash browns in a bowl with crisp-tender asparagus, plenty of bacon, and a fried egg on top is my idea of breakfast heaven.
This Asparagus Skillet is a delightful combination of sweet potatoes, fresh corn, asparagus, and bacon with a drizzle of balsamic. This was something unexpected that I pulled together for a dinner side dish a few years ago, using odds and ends from the refrigerator. What resulted was a skillet full of magic. Yes, it’s that good. I’ve made it countless times since and I always grin when eating it.
Bacon Asparagus Pasta
- 8 ounces linguini or thin spaghetti
- 6 ounces bacon cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons bacon grease reserved
- 1 pound fresh asparagus cut into 1-2 inch pieces with the tips set aside
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt adjust to taste
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- ½-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes adjust as desired for additional heat
- 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice about 1 large lemon's worth, divided
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan about 2 ounces worth
- ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta when it reaches al dente. (The noodles should still be slightly firm).
- In a large deep-sided pan or the same pot used to cook the pasta, cook the bacon for about 10 minutes, until it is cooked through. Transfer the bacon to a bowl near the stove. Drain and reserve all bacon grease from the pan.
- In the same pan used for the bacon, add the asparagus stems and 1 tablespoon of grease. (Set aside the asparagus tips to add last.) Cook the asparagus stems for about 3 minutes and then add the reserved tips.
- Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 4 to 8 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper while the asparagus cooks. Add the garlic when the asparagus is almost done and cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Transfer the asparagus to the bowl with the bacon.
- Carefully pour ¼ cup of pasta water into the hot pan over medium heat. Use a flat metal whisk or spatula to scrape up the brown bits and deglaze the pan.
- Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon grease, red pepper flakes, and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to the pan. Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the pasta to the pot and toss well with tongs to coat.
- Return the asparagus and the bacon to the pan with the pasta. Toss to combine. Splash with the remaining pasta water, if the pasta looks dry. Taste and add salt, as needed.
- Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and sprinkle with parsley and Parmesan. Toss lightly and serve immediately.