Pea, Lemon and Asparagus Pasta

This pea, lemon and asparagus pasta recipe makes the most of the tail end of the asparagus season. I have slightly adapted this recipe from Anna Jones, making it wheat free. I like to use red lentil pasta (available from Tesco or Waitrose) which works really well.

Asparagus is a nutrient-packed vegetable. It’s a source of fibre, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, and also chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells. It contains glutathione too, known for its ability to neutralize cell-damaging free radicals.

asparagus and lemon

The sauce is magically made from the pasta water and asparagus as the pasta cooks – all in one pan.
The key to this recipe is to measure your water carefully and use the right pan: you need a large, shallow sauté pan or a casserole large enough to fit the pasta lying down. A large, deep frying pan or wok would work well too. Keep tossing the pasta as it cooks to stop it sticking, as there is less water than you might be used to.
Make sure your pasta has an 8-minute cooking time – any longer will need a little more water and a little longer cooking.


Serves 4

400g wheat free pasta eg red lentil
400g asparagus
1 garlic clove
200g fresh podded or frozen peas
Zest of 2 large, unwaxed lemons
100ml olive oil
1 tsp flaky sea salt
400g watercress
A small bunch of basil or mint
Parmesan (or vegan cheese)


1. Fill and boil a kettle and get all your ingredients and equipment together.

2. Put the pasta into the pan. Snap the woody bottoms off the asparagus and chop the stalks into ½cm rounds, leaving the tips intact. Put the tips to one side and throw the rounds into the pan. Finely slice the clove of garlic and add this too, along with the peas. Grate in the zest of both lemons and add the oil and salt. Add 1 litre of boiling water, put a lid on the pan and bring to the boil. As soon as it comes to the boil, remove the lid and simmer on a high heat for 8 minutes, using a pair of tongs to turn the pasta every 30 seconds or so as it cooks.

3. Meanwhile, remove any big stalks from the watercress. Once the pasta has had 8 minutes, take the lid off and stir through the asparagus tips and the watercress and tear in the herbs. Simmer for a final 2 minutes.

4. Once almost all the water has evaporated, take the pan off the heat and leave to sit for a minute or two, so the pasta can absorb most of the remaining water and form a lemony sauce. Tangle into four bowls and top with a little parmesan.

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