Updated: Jan 3
I love a good, flavourful pasta that doesn't take much time. This one is so fresh and light, and has notes of a shrimp scampi but is a little bit brighter. There are so many elements to like in this pasta - caramelized lemons give this almost a chicken piccata vibe (make sure to look at the notes for different methods on how to do this step), pan roasted asparagus, and a quick shrimp broth to boost the shrimp flavour. And this dish can be done in 30 mins or less!
Lemony Shrimp and Asparagus Pasta
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Yield: 4-6 servings
350 g pasta of your choice, undercooked by 1-2 minutes (reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water)
300 g shrimp, peeled and deveined (save shells/tail)
15 pieces of asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces (remove the stocks and reserve them)
2 cups water
2 tsp red chili flakes
2 tbs olive oil, divided
2 tbs butter, divided
4 slices of lemon, seeds removed**
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs heavy cream
1/2 cup ricotta cheese (replace with heavy cream for a richer, creamier pasta if desired)
Parmesan cheese to garnish
Heat a saucepan over medium high. Remove the shells and tail from your shrimp, and the stocks from your asparagus. Add the shrimp shells/tails and asparagus stocks to the saucepan with a pinch of salt and 2 cups of water. Allow the liquid to come up to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer while you make the pasta, 15-20 minutes, allowing the stock to reduce in quantity slightly.
Season the shrimp with a pinch of salt and pepper, and the pepper flakes. Heat a large pan over medium high heat. Once hot, add about 1 tbs olive oil. Add the shrimp and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, then remove from the pan - keep as much juice and oil from the shrimp that you can.
Add 1 tbs of butter to the pan, and once melted, add the lemon slices. Allow the lemon to darken and caramelize, about 2-3 minutes on each side, then remove from the pan. Chop the caramelized lemon up finely (almost into a paste) and reserve**.
Add the remaining olive oil and butter to the pan, then add the asparagus. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, adding the minced caramelized lemon and minced garlic during the last minute of cooking.
Stir the shrimp back into the pan, and strain the shrimp tail broth directly on top of it, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Simmer for 2-3 minutes or until it thickens slightly. Add the cooked pasta and heavy cream, and allow it to simmer in the sauce for 3-5 minutes or until the pasta is fully cooked and tender. Stir in the ricotta cheese and, only if needed, stir in some of the pasta water (up to 1/2 cup) to create a creamy sauce. Simmer for another 1-3 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
** Although cooking the lemon this way is fast, easy, and delicious, since we are leaving the pith in, some bites of the pasta may be bitter. If you don't enjoy this taste, use a vegetable peeler to peel the zest off of 1 lemon (avoiding the white pith). Slice into thin slices and caramelize the zest using the same method as step 3. Cut the rest of the lemon in half and juice it to get about 1/4 cup lemon juice (remove seeds). Add it to the pasta in step 5 along with the broth.
For a richer pasta, use heavy cream instead of ricotta cheese.