Lemon Pasta with Spring Vegetables

PREP TIME: 10 minutes

COOK TIME: 15 minutes

TOTAL TIME: 25 minutes


March 2024

This fast and easy vegetarian pasta dish is perfect for a family dinner but also special enough to serve when you’re having company. With a light, bright, lemony sauce, fresh seasonal asparagus, and sweet peas, it’s a delicious way to welcome spring.


  • 8 ounces dried pasta (fettuccini, linguine, or thick spaghetti)
  • Salt (for the pasta water and to season)
  • 1 medium leek (light-green part only), washed well to remove any dirt inside the layers
  • 8 ounces thin asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup frozen petite peas
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 3/4 cup pasta water
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (plus additional for serving, if desired)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
  • Fresh ground pepper


  • Large saucepan
  • Cutting board and chef’s knife
  • Sauté pan
  • Colander
  • Spatula or large mixing spoon


1. Fill the saucepan with 3 quarts of cold water. Bring the water to a boil, and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add the pasta, and boil on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Test the pasta 1 to 2 minutes before the packaging says it should be ready; you want the pasta to be cooked al dente because it will absorb extra liquid from the sauce. Reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta water before you drain the pasta.

2. While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce. Slice the light-green part of the leek into thin rounds. Snap the tough ends off the asparagus, and cut the spears into 1-inch pieces.

3. Heat the olive oil in the sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, the asparagus, and a pinch of salt. Sauté the vegetables for about 3 minutes or until the leeks start to caramelize.

4. Add the peas and lemon zest. Sauté for one more minute. Reduce the heat to medium.

5. Add the reserved pasta water and cream to the sauté pan. Bring the sauce to a simmer (you may need to turn up the heat a bit), and allow it to thicken for about 30 seconds. Turn the heat off, and add the lemon juice. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the sauce, stirring as you add it so it melts evenly and is evenly distributed throughout.v

6. Add the hot pasta to the sauce, and stir well to combine. Top with fresh parsley and ground pepper to taste. Serve immediately with extra Parmesan if desired.

Kids Can!

  • Snap the tough ends off the asparagus
  • Measure the peas
  • Juice the lemon

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