June 30, 2014

Kale & Asparagus Pasta Alfredo

For me, the appearance of asparagus at the market means the end of winter. Finally.

Suddenly life becomes brighter, more enjoyable. Warmth and sunshine will do that to you.

I bought a bunch of asparagus before realizing my garden was thriving – the kale ready for picking, the lettuce ready for salad-making.

I made a simple pasta by stir frying the asparagus and kale before tossing it with some lemony cream sauce and colourful orechiette (aka little ears) that I purchased while in Italy. I don’t know about you, but I love browsing the supermarket while in a different country and seeing all the items that are not available at home.

There's something about a lemon pasta that screams spring to me. Asparagus plus a lemony pasta is the ultimate spring dish.

Kale & Asparagus Pasta Alfredo
Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

The kale from my garden was quite tender (similar to chard), but if the ones you buy have a tougher stem, remove the rib and discard.

Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 bunch kale, stems cut into 1 1/2-inch, leaves cut into ribbons
1/2 pound (225 grams) dried small pasta (orechiette, shells, etc.)
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a pan, and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about two minutes. Add the kale stems, cook until soften, about 2 minutes. Add the kale leaves and cook until wilted; season with salt. Remove kale from pan. Add the asparagus to the pan and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes; season with salt. Remove asparagus and add to the pile of kale.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta, and cook according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, and set aside. Drain the pasta.

Dry out the pot, and pour in the heavy cream. Bring the cream to a simmer, and cook it until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the butter, and stir it until it has melted. Generously season the sauce with freshly ground black pepper; add a pinch of salt as well as the lemon zest and juice. Add 3/4 cup of the parmesan, and stir it until the sauce is smooth; then toss in the drained pasta, kale and asparagus. Cook the pasta in sauce for 2 minutes, until the sauce has slightly thickened. Add the reserved pasta water by the spoonful if needed to loosen the sauce.

Divide the pasta among bowls. Garnish with remaining parmesan and the flat-leaf parsley.


  1. Yum - love the colours. What else do you have growing in your garden? I love asparagus and try to get the most out of asparagus season!

  2. I'm also growing tomatoes, eggplant, basil and parsley. What do you have in your garden this year?

  3. Eggplant! Ohh... are they easy to grow?
    Tomatoes, beans, peas, beets, carrots, chard, onions, and a bunch of herbs. Oh right, and rhubarb. So far things seem to be growing good. I had to put fence around everything because rabbits and birds were eating my peas & beet leaves!

  4. I never have any luck with the vine vegetables except for tomatoes (peas, eggplants, etc.), but going to attempt it again! Let me know how your root vegetables turn out. I had to put a fence around everything too.

    If you have an overabundance of rhubarb, you know who to give it to. ;)

  5. Haha... will do! :) My beans are taking over everything - definitely have an overabundance of that!!