Lemon Asparagus Pasta with Shrimp and Pistachios
A bright dish of lemon asparagus pasta perked up with shrimp and crunchy pistachios. Ready in less than 30 minutes, this meal is perfect for adding some variety to busy weeknight comfort food!
This recipe is an oldie but goodie, and I’m indebted to reader Angie S. for reminding me about it and inspiring me to pull it up from the archives for a little refresh! Angie let me know awhile back that this lemon asparagus pasta has become one of her family’s favorites, and even motivated her 90+ year-old father to go back for seconds – a rare occurrence!
Those little moments, the pride and simple contentment of seeing your loved ones enjoy the food that you made–those have weight. And helping you have more of those moments is what drives me to run this site!
So what makes this recipe so special? It’s a simple dish, and a refreshingly light take on comfort food. Any pasta is comfort food in my book, but this one skips heavy sauce in favor of a zing of lemon juice. Add crisp green asparagus, fresh herbs, and plump shrimp, and you’ve got a pasta you can feel good about.
And, I can’t forget my favorite part: pistachios!
You might be skeptical about pistachios in pasta, but trust me – the salty crunch is the perfect finishing touch.
Of course you can simply leave them off for any choosy eaters. They just won’t know what they’re missing. 😉
How to make lemon asparagus pasta
This recipe is also wonderfully easy to make, and doesn’t require a long or complicated list of ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Pasta – I most often use farfalle, or bowties, but any shape you like is fine.
- Shrimp – If you’re short on time, do yourself a favor and buy shrimp that are already peeled and deveined.
- 1 Lemon – Use fresh juice for the best flavor!
- Asparagus – Fresh, green, and crispy!
- Herbs and seasonings – fresh basil, fresh parsley, garlic, coarse salt, and pepper. You’ll also need extra-virgin olive oil and a pat of butter.
The process itself is equally simple. You’ll need two pans. In one, cook the pasta. The other will handle everything else.
- Sauté the shrimp in a drizzle of olive oil with melted butter and sizzling garlic. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Sauté the asparagus, season well, then stir in the lemon juice and drained pasta.
- Pop the shrimp back into the pan, add the finishing touches, and – voila! Dinner is served.
Lemon asparagus pasta recipe notes
This dish is pretty straightforward, but here are a few modest suggestions for making it as easy and delicious as possible.
- Be sure to use salted water for cooking the pasta. Adding 1-2 teaspoons of salt to the boiling water before adding the pasta hugely improves the final flavor.
- This is easy to make with frozen shrimp. To defrost shrimp quickly, place them in a large strainer and place under cold running water for 4-5 minutes, shaking the strainer occasionally to be sure all the shrimp are exposed to the water. When they bend to the touch, they’re ready to cook as directed in this recipe – or any other!
- I left the tails on the shrimp in these photos, because, well, they look pretty! But for ease of eating, you could pull them off before cooking.
- If your crew doesn’t care for asparagus, you can absolutely substitute green beans, peas, or another veggie more to your taste.
- I really do recommend the fresh herbs for this dish – they add not just flavor, but a brightness and texture you won’t quite replicate here with dried.
- While this recipe is delicious served hot, it’s also a very nice summer meal or side to share, and can be kept in the fridge and served cold!
If you like this spring pasta, you might also enjoy:
Extra pistachios? Here are some ideas to use them up:
- Pan-Seared Pistachio Herb-Crusted Salmon
- Spring Sugar Snap Pea Salad with Buffalo Mozzarella
- Sea Salt Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies
From the Archives:
Last but not least, if you try this pasta or any other recipe on the blog, please rate the recipe and leave a comment below. I love hearing from you, and other readers will benefit from your experience!
Lemon Asparagus Pasta with Shrimp and Pistachios
- 16 ounces (about 500 grams) pasta
- 12 ounces (about 375 grams) fresh green asparagus
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 12 ounces (340 grams) raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- salt and freshly-ground black pepper
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 3/4 cup shelled pistachios
- grated Parmesan, for serving
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, trim the woody ends off the asparagus, then chop the spears into pieces 2-3” in length. Set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and olive oil. When the butter is completely melted, add garlic and saute for about 30 seconds, just until fragrant.
- Add shrimp to the skillet in an even layer, then season with salt and pepper. Cook shrimp for about 2 minutes on each side, just until they are opaque and no longer pink. Remove shrimp to a plate and set aside.
- Keep the pan over medium heat; if it looks dry, add an extra drizzle of olive oil. Add the asparagus, season with salt and pepper, and saute for 4-5 minutes. Add the cooked pasta and lemon juice, and stir to combine.
- Return the cooked shrimp to the pan, followed by the parsley, basil, and pistachios. Stir to combine, and remove pan from the heat. Serve right away, passing some grated Parmesan at the table, if desired.
Recipe inspired by this mozzarella pistachio pasta from Joy the Baker.