Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lemon Truffle Pasta with Asparagus and Porcini Mushrooms

Springtime flavors of lemon and tarragon brighten up this fresh pasta.

The onset of spring has brought together a trifecta of flavors and opportunity to combine beautifully tender fresh local asparagus and purchased gourmet treasures. We have a saying in our family when given a gift so special that we end up "saving it for good." We tuck it way for some magical "good" time to present itself.  But so often, the alignment of the stars for that moment just doesn't seem to present itself and the treasured item waits and waits for showtime. What must it think? When is good going to come? Why am I not special enough? Is this pedestal of goodness a impediment to perhaps simply to create a good and magical moment, any day, just because?  How often do we find ourselves doing this, with a bottle of wine, an exotic ingredient, or even articles of clothing. Does the wait actually enhance the anticipation? Or by deferring the pleasure do we build up ultimately unachievable expectations? I do wonder.  In this life, if we wait, sometimes good never happens.

And that's the thought which lead me to finally open my little jar of treasured white truffles on a weeknight for this simple pasta. Tonight, there will be good, because we can.

Small jars of black and white truffles from Florence, Italy

Lemon Truffle Pasta with Asparagus and Porcini Mushrooms
Serves 4
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes

8 oz Penne Pasta (about 3 cups cooked)
4-5 cups fresh asparagus, cut in ¾” pieces
1 ½ cup 2% milk
1 cup mushroom water (left over from hydrating dried porcini mushrooms)
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbl all purpose flour
¼ tsp sea salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 ½ tsp fresh tarragon, chopped
2 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp lemon juice
1 small white truffle, finely chopped
½ oz dried porcini mushrooms, rehydrated, chopped
1 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese, divided

  • In a small bowl, pour 1 cup hot water over dried porcini mushrooms, soak for at least 15 minutes to soften and rehydrate. Drain and reserve liquid. Chop mushrooms and truffle.
  • Wash asparagus thoroughly to remove any grit, slice on the diagonal in ¾” pieces.
  • Bring water to a boil in 6 qt pot, add 1-2 tsp salt before adding pasta to cook.
  • In a small bowl combine milk, reserved mushroom water, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.
  • Grate cheese.

  1. Add penne to boiling water and cook for about 7 minutes, then add asparagus pieces and continue cook until pasta is al dente and asparagus tender, about another 5 minutes. Drain and reserve at least a cup of pasta liquid if you need to add to white sauce.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat large skillet over medium and saute garlic until slightly toasted about 1 mintue. Add porcini mushrooms and truffles and continue cooking 2 minutes.
  3. Add milk mixture to skillet, stir to combine with garlic and mushrooms. Add lemon zest, juice, and fresh tarragon. Continue stirring until mixture is thickened. (If it seems too thick add a bit of the pasta water to reach your preferred consistency.)
  4. Add drained penne and asparagus to white sauce, add ½ cup parmesan cheese and stir to coat pasta thoroughly. Should be thick and creamy.
  5. Remove from heat and serve with additional parmesan cheese on top.

Cook’s Tips
Inspiration: Lemony Asparagus Pasta from Eating Well

If you don’t have white truffles to indulge with, perhaps a finishing drizzle of white truffle infused olive oil will suit.

Vegetarian light cheese pasta with asparagus.


  1. This sounds absolutely delicious!

    1. Hope you get a chance to enjoy over at Avocado Pesto. Thanks for your visit Vicky!

  2. Robin that is a good way to look at it...why save it when you can really enjoy the "good" stuff on a weeknight?!! ;) This looks amazing and how special that penne pasta must feel! :)

    1. Sometimes just a little bit of something special makes the whole day! So nice to hear from you Lyndsey! Hope all is well in Florida :-)

  3. Another six weeks and we can get fresh porcini! Mangiare bene!

  4. Ah, I love your words, you know. Beautiful and I always find myself smiling as I read through a post. And I am waiting patiently for asparagus to appear on my market and your recipe has inspired me to try something similar. Just wonderful!

    1. Your comment makes me smile right back Jamie! I can't wait to see what you and JP come up with when asparagus comes to Nantes ;-)


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