If you like asparagus and lemon together, this fettuccine with lemon, asparagus and parmesan is the right recipe for you! And better yet, it’s very simple and quick to make, so can make for an easy weeknight dinner. The dish is best when using preserved lemons, which add a brightness and salty tang that is delicious. Preserved lemons are really easy to make, and take about two weeks for the salt to do its work. I have a simple recipe with pictures to show you how here. If you don’t have them on hand,use lemon zest instead but make some so you have them for the next time you want to make this dish. Preserved lemons are also great with most fish, are good in dips, and perfect in Moroccan dishes like chicken tagine.
This recipe serves 4 as a main course, and takes about 20 minutes to make.
4 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb asparagus spears, ends trimmed or snapped off
1/4 cup dry white wine
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup preserved lemon, chopped into small dice OR 1 Tbsp lemon zest
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
16 oz fresh fettuccine noodles (or dried if you can’t get fresh)
You want to cut the asparagus into thin slices cutting on the bias. You can see an example in the picture below….it’s best to put the asparagus spear flat on the cutting board, angle your knife to be almost flat and slice left to right. Put the asparagus pieces in a bowl.
Put the water on to boil in a large pot, adding a generous amount of salt to the water. You’ll want to time the pasta to be done at the same time as the sauce/asparagus, which takes about 6 minutes to make. So if you have fresh pasta, you’ll want to put it in about 3 minutes before the sauce is done. If you have dried pasta, you’ll want to to put it in the water and start the sauce when the pasta has 6 minutes left to cook.
When you’re ready to make the sauce, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When fully melted, add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds (you should be able to smell the garlic). Add the asparagus, mix well and cook for 3 minutes. Add the wine, lemon juice and preserved lemon or zest, and turn the heat to medium high. Cook an additional 3 minutes until the sauce has reduced slightly. Add a healthy amount of freshly ground black pepper, and a bit of salt if needed (taste it first…preserved lemons are pretty salty). Turn off the heat.
By now the pasta should be done. Drain the pasta and add the noodles to the asparagus sauce, mixing well. Divide the pasta among four plates, making sure some asparagus pieces are on top of the pasta. Sprinkle each dish with parmesan cheese and serve immediately, preferably with some warm crusty bread on the side.