Creamy shrimp asparagus pasta, all tossed in a creamy lemon sauce, for an easy and delicious weeknight meal! Ready in just 30 minutes.
Lemon pasta is one of my favourites, but it’s especially nice this time of year, when I’m craving fresher flavours. And there’s nothing fresher that lemon! Combine it with fresh Spring asparagus and toss in some cooked shrimp and you have a delicious and easy meal, that’s ready in just 30 minutes.
While I love to toss in some shrimp here, this dish is still lovely with just the asparagus, so don’t hesitate to try it, even if you don’t have some shrimp on hand. It’s a great way to enjoy Spring asparagus.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Pasta – While you could use any pasta for this dish (and I have tried many different shapes), I think you just can’t beat spaghetti here. It just grabs the sauce so well and creates the perfect balance between pasta and sauce.
Shrimp – Frozen, cooked shrimp is such a time-saver and always a great addition to a dish! I always have a bag in my freezer. They defrost quickly by running under cold water, so no need to thaw ahead. That said, you could definitely use uncooked shrimp here and cook them separately, before adding to the pasta. You might even want to make use of your pasta boiling water after you take the pasta out.
Asparagus – I suggest just using asparagus tips here, since it’s difficult to eat a whole, long spear of asparagus in a pasta dish. But do save the rest of the asparagus stalk and use for a soup or or chunk up to use in a stir fry!
Heavy Cream – the is aka whipping cream and is typically 35% butterfat. Using a high fat cream ensures that the sauce won’t curdle or split with the added lemon juice.
Don’t forget to scoop out a cup or so of pasta cooking water before draining your pasta, to use to thin the sauce, as needed. If your pasta seems to seize up a bit near the end, adding a bit of the pasta cooking water will loosen it up.
For my photos here, I put the shrimp and asparagus on top of the pasta, so you could see all the lovely ingredients of this pasta. And you can do that and mix it together at the table, if you’d like to present it this way. That said, the easier way to make this dish is to just mix everything up together in the pan, so the delicious sauce coats everything, and serve it already mixed. That’s the way I’ve written the recipe below.
Heavy, whipping cream is used here, because the higher fat whipping cream won’t break or curdle when mixed with an acid like lemon juice (or wine). So while you may be tempted to use a lower fat cream here, your sauce will most likely curdle or have a less desirable texture. If you don’t want to use that much cream, the better option is just to use less cream and more pasta cooking water (or some olive oil and/or chicken broth), rather than substituting a lower fat cream.
Get the Recipe: Creamy Shrimp Asparagus Pasta
- 1 lb. fresh asparagus, tips only
- 7 oz spaghetti, or other pasta
- 2 cups cooked shrimp, thawed *see Notes below for using raw shrimp
Creamy Lemon Sauce:
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream, 35% b.f.
- 2 Tablespoons salted butter
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 Tablespoons lemon juice, plus more, to taste
- 1/4 cup Parmesan, grated, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup reserved pasta cooking water, plus more, if needed
- Lemon slices
- Pea shoots, optional
- Boil water in a large pot and salt generously. Cook pasta per package directions. Trim the tips off the asparagus, down to about 3 inches from the tip. Add the asparagus tips into the boiling water with the pasta for the last 2-3 minutes of cooking.
- Meanwhile, heat the cream, butter salt and pepper in a large skillet over low heat. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice and Parmesan and stir to combine. Add the thawed shrimp to the sauce. For cooked shrimp, heat just until warmed and then turn the heat off under the pan until the pasta is ready. For raw shrimp, simmer in the sauce until shrimp is pink and cooked through. Keep warm over low heat until the pasta is done.
- If draining pasta and asparagus, remove 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside before draining, otherwise, use tongs to transfer the pasta and asparagus to the skillet with the cream/shrimp mixture. Add 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking liquid and cook over medium-low heat, tossing well, until well coated and the shrimp is warmed through. Taste and add more salt, pepper and additional lemon juice and/or additional pasta cooking water, as needed.
- Serve garnished with lemon slices, additional Parmesan cheese and pea shoots, if desired.
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Hi! I’m Jennifer, a home cook schooled by trial and error and almost 40 years of getting dinner on the table! I love to share my favourite recipes, both old and new, together with lots of tips and tricks to hopefully help make your home cooking enjoyable, stress free, rewarding and of course, delicious!