Nothing smacks of spring quite like asparagus, am I right? Whether you grill it, bread and fry it, use it in pesto, or throw it into salad, earthy and verdant asparagus has so many uses. This creamy asparagus and manchego pasta makes full use of the vegetable, and tastes like nothing you’d find in a can. (Remember when canned, creamed asparagus was a thing? *Shudder*)
But we don’t need to throw out all the relics of the past. My friend tried this recipe and said it reminded her of tuna noodle casserole, but with an asparagus twist, and I’d agree. Tuna noodle casserole was a favorite of mine growing up: my grandma always made it with crushed potato chips on top. With this pasta recipe, we’re taking the best parts of the classic tuna dish, and amping it up with Spanish manchego cheese and the freshest veggies.
For those who really love spring vegetables, this dish gives you a bit of everything. Raw asparagus tips, creamy blended asparagus stalks, and in-season spring peas. Also, even though we include cream and butter, it’s lighter than you might think. It really is a full meal and super satisfying. As a bonus, I think the variety of textures here is so fun.
Speaking of fun, do you have a favorite shape of pasta? Mine is cavatappi! It’s just so spirally and spring-y (pun absolutely intended). I would choose it any day, but feel free to use whatever pasta shape makes you happy. You can serve this pasta warm, right out of the pot, but I think it tastes really good at room temperature as well. For this reason, it’s perfect for upcoming outdoor gatherings. Take advantage of locally-grown produce this season, and give this creamy asparagus and manchego pasta a try. Bon appetit!
- 1 tb of butter
- 3 medium cloves of garlic
- ¾ cup of heavy cream
- ¾ cup of milk (I used 2%)
- 1 bunch of asparagus, woody ends snapped off
- 1 lb of cavatappi pasta (or pasta shape of your choice)
- 1 cup of spring peas (fresh or thawed, if frozen)
- ¾ cup of shredded manchego cheese (reserve some for garnish)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 can of tuna packed in oil
- 1 lemon (optional)
First, get your pasta water boiling in a large pot with generously salted water.
Next, heat up the butter in a medium saucepan. Peel the garlic cloves and add to the pot (no need to chop since we will be blending them). Separate the asparagus tips from the stalks.
When the garlic starts to smell fragrant and turn brown, add the heavy cream and milk to the pot, and season generously with salt and pepper. After the cream starts bubbling, add the asparagus stalks and partially cover the pot. Simmer for about 7 to 10 minutes.
When the pasta water boils, add the cavatappi and boil until al dente. Drain.
Let the cream and asparagus simmer until fork tender and the sauce has thickened up a bit, then blend with an immersion blender in the pot, or carefully transfer to a regular blender or food processor. Blend until the asparagus is broken down but not fully liquidated. Once blended and back in the pot, add the shredded manchego cheese and stir to combine. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Combine the drained pasta and cream sauce, then top with the asparagus tips, spring peas, and tuna in oil. Finish with a few cranks of fresh pepper, a dash of salt, some cheese, and optionally a squeeze of lemon. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 469Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 83mgSodium: 322mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 4gSugar: 4gProtein: 23g