Pappardelle with Asparagus, Lemon, Sundried Tomatoes, Pecorino, and Pine Nuts

This recipe was inspired by Jean Kwok’s novel, Searching for Sylvie Lee.

Book reference, p 226:  Filip, Sylvie, Lukas, and Estelle are at a restaurant in Venice. “I took a bite of my tagliatelle with artichokes and pecorino and sighed;…”

A trip to Italy in the Spring? Yes, please!

Do you have a favourite shape of pasta? Sometimes I crave penne, and often, orecchiette, because of their bite-size appeal. But hands down, pappardelle is my ultimate pasta experience. It’s wider than a fettuccine noodle, a bit thinner, too. Pappardelle is very easily twirled on the tines of your fork which makes it the ideal choice for the recipe I’ve created here.

This is another of my dishes where you can get most of the prep done beforehand, so when company arrives, all you have to do is cook the pasta, and add it to the vegetables and aromatics to create a ‘one-pot meal’ as it were. I’ll eat pappardelle, asparagus, and lemon, any day of the week. When Spring arrives and the beautiful green spears are ready to eat, this asparagus-based dish can become the star of your dining table. And if pappardelle is not your pasta shape of choice, you have my blessing to choose one that is!

Prep Time: 20

Cooking Time: 6-8 minutes

Total Time: +/- 30 minutes

Serves: 4


  • 500g (1lb) pappardelle pasta
1 bunch, 500 grams of asparagus, peeled into strips with a vegetable peeler
  • 125ml (½ cup) sundried tomatoes, sliced into thin strips
  • 125ml (½ cup) fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • juice and grated rind of one lemon
  • 75g (½ cup) grated pecorino Romano cheese, a little extra for garnish
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
freshly cracked black pepper
sea salt to taste


Begin by filling a large spaghetti pot with water, and setting it on the stove to boil, with a lid on.

Next, prep the asparagus using a vegetable peeler to peel it into long strips. Top tip: after you make the first run with the peeler, turn the asparagus spear onto the flat side – this will stabilize the veg while you peel it. When you have peeled all of the veg into ribbons, place it in a bowl and set aside. Into the large bowl you’ll be using to serve the pasta, slice the sundried tomatoes, and basil. Now grate in the rind of the lemon, and then squeeze in the juice. You can add the grated pecorino, being sure to set a bit aside as garnish.

Check the pot of water – as soon as it’s boiling, add the pappardelle and cook as per package instructions, usually about 6 minutes. At the 5 minute mark, add in the peeled asparagus. You want to blanch this for one minute only! When the 6 minutes are up for your pappardelle, and it has reached an al dente stage, reserve about a half cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta and veg in a colander. Now tip this onto the sundried tomatoes, basil, lemon and cheese in the large bowl. Add half of the reserved pasta water, (more if you need to) olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste, and gently toss until the ribbons of asparagus have integrated nicely alongside the pappardelle. Top with pine nuts, more pecorino, and fresh pepper, and enjoy every bite!

Top tip: When you bring your asparagus home from the market, if you aren’t going to use it for a few days, cut off the bottom 3 cms, and place the asparagus, tips up, in a wide glass or jar, with about 3 cms of water in the jar. Store this in the fridge and it will keep fresh for a few days.

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