Penne with Asparagus Carbonara

Each morning, we like to drink an americano in bed and read the New York Times. We happened to read this recipe the morning after we’d made our tuna nicoise salad, so we had many of the necessary ingredients on hand already. The asparagus is so spring-timey, and the dish is simple enough for a weekday dinner. (This is servings for two.)

Penne with Asparagus Carbonara
Penne with Asparagus Carbonara

Snap the ends off 1/2 pound of asparagus. Cut them on the slant into 1″ pieces.


In a large skillet over medium-low heat, heat 2 T oil. Add 3 large cloves of sliced garlic and cook until the garlic smells lovely. Add in the asparagus and stir fry about five minutes, until it turns light green and al dente. Pull the pan off the heat.

Sautee the Asparagus and Garlic
Sautee the Asparagus and Garlic

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and boil 10 ounces dry penne pasta. Cook the pasta until it’s al dente. Drain the pasta (saving some of the water) and add it to the skillet.

Now, in a bowl, beat together 3 large eggs. Slowly whisk 1/2 cup of the pasta water into the eggs.

Mix the Eggs and Pasta Water
Mix the Eggs and Pasta Water

Add a little more oil and toss with the asparagus over low heat. Add salt and pepper.

Very slowly, stir about half the egg mixture into the pasta and asparagus, mixing constantly. It’s delicious if some of the egg scrambles a bit. Then quickly stir in 1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese, pour in the remaining ingredients in the skillet and mix.

Mix the Egg, Pasta and Asparagus
Mix the Egg, Pasta and Asparagus

Add 2 tablespoons minced tarragon and serve.

Penne with Asparagus Carbonara
Penne with Asparagus Carbonara


  • 1/2 pound asparagus
  • olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 10 oz dry penne pasta
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup pasta water
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
  • 2 T minced fresh tarragon


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Seattle Foodshed

Gardening, foraging, exploring and cooking. Time for a delicious adventure.

11 thoughts on “Penne with Asparagus Carbonara”

  1. I am in love with this recipe before I’ve even tried it!! So nice to see a vegetarian carbonara recipe. The asparagus here is beautiful now, so this will definitely go on my menu very soon. Thanks!!

  2. This is a fabulous recipe, and I want to make it the centerpiece of a dinner party for a vegetarian friend this weekend. I can’t quite envision what salad to serve with it. It’s quite rich by itself. just greens and lemon vinaigrette? other menu suggestions?

    1. So cool you’re making this! It’s such a decadent dish. We would say an arugula salad with a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese and a lemon/olive oil dressing might complement this nicely. Were you thinking of a dessert and/or a drink, too?

      1. arugula with lemon and parm it is! something pure spring for dessert:
        rhubarb/strawberry crisp. So that just leaves me to puzzle appetizers, which always stump me a bit. There’s a lot of cheese in this menu already. …

      2. Ok, what about rhubarb bruschetta to start you out? Then you have rhubarb at the beginning and the end, to tie it all together. The pickled rhubarb is easy to make and pleasingly tart, and it’s a handy finger food, great to eat with a glass of white wine.

  3. And you know, another option would be crostini with caramelized apple, tarragon and blue cheese. and if things are feeling too cheese-y, you can leave off the blue cheese. that one was a real crowd pleaser for us last week!

    1. I saw that recipe. Sounds absolutely terrific, especially in fall. I’m definitely going to tuck it away.

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