Penne with Ricotta and Asparagus

Penne with ricotta and asparagus! Simple spring pasta with asparagus, ricotta and Parmesan cheeses, garlic, and a dash of nutmeg.

Elise Bauer

With California asparagus selling for less than $4 per pound, they're hard to resist, especially with summer weather knocking on the door.

I tore this recipe for pasta with asparagus and ricotta cheese out of the New York Times magazine a few weeks ago, where it found its way under a pile of bills, magazines, and other recipes, until today when it became my excuse to gleefully buy some what are sure to be last-of-the-season asparagus.

I amended the original recipe by adding a few dashes of nutmeg to the seasoning, for an added kick. This recipe is simple, both in taste and method, only requires one pot, and makes a huge amount.

It's a little heavy on the pasta, you could easily cut it back. You can also dress it up some by adding lemon zest, cut cherry tomatoes, or even some Italian sausage.

Penne with Ricotta and Asparagus

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Servings 4 servings


  • Salt

  • 1 1/4 pounds thick asparagus, woody ends trimmed

  • 1 pound penne pasta

  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and mashed

  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Nutmeg


  1. Blanch the asparagus:

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil. (You will cook both the asparagus and the pasta in the same pot of water.) Add a couple teaspoons of salt. Have an ice bath ready. Add the asparagus and cook until tender but firm, about 4 minutes.

    Remove the asparagus with tongs and place in the ice bath to stop the cooking.

  2. Cut the asparagus:

    into 1/8-inch diagonal slices, leaving the tips intact.

  3. Cook the pasta:

    Bring the water back to a boil and add the penne pasta.

  4. Make the ricotta sauce:

    While the penne is cooking, rub the inside of a large serving bowl with the mashed garlic. Discard the garlic. Add the ricotta, olive oil, and 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Mix together in the bowl.

  5. Add pasta to the ricotta mixture, with asparagus and parm:

    When the pasta is done, drain it, reserving some of the cooking water. Add the penne to the ricotta mixture. Fold in the asparagus and half of the Parmesan cheese.

    Season to taste with salt, pepper, and several dashes of nutmeg. Add some of the reserved pasta water if needed.

  6. Serve with remaining grated Parmesan cheese:

    in a separate bowl for sprinkling.

Penne with Ricotta and Asparagus on Simply Recipes
Elise Bauer
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
491 Calories
21g Fat
49g Carbs
27g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 491
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 27%
Saturated Fat 9g 46%
Cholesterol 47mg 16%
Sodium 648mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 49g 18%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 27g
Vitamin C 11mg 56%
Calcium 475mg 37%
Iron 3mg 19%
Potassium 536mg 11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.