Asparagus pappardelle with pistachio pangrattato for a simple seasonal supper

April and May means it’s time for Asparagus in the UK and I look forward to this each and every year. The exact date it will appear depends largely on the weather and its impact on the growing season so its always rather exciting guessing when that will be.

I don’t like to be fussy with my asparagus recipes, you don’t want the ingredients or flavour lost in a sea of other veg. Griddled or steamed then dunked in a dippy egg will mostly do just fine, but there are other simple recipes to seek out too – like this pasta dish. With not much else added asparagus’ flavour really shines through. You can use fresh or dried pasta for this dish. I love the long wide ribbons of pappardelle.

Pangrattato, a breadcrumb, often used instead of Parmesan as a cheaper alternative in some southern Italian cuisines, adds a lovely crunchy, salty finish, and I’ve jazzed mine up with some not so cheap pistachios.

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Asparagus Pappardelle with Pistachio Pangrattato
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
With not much else added asparagus' flavour really shines through. You can use fresh or dried pasta for this dish. I love the long wide ribbons of pappardelle.
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 2
For the Pangrattato
  • 1 tbsp pistachio nuts
  • 50g day old bread, crusts removed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch chilli flakes
  • 1 lemon, zested
For the pasta
  • 250g asparagus
  • 250g fresh egg pappardelle (or 180g dried pasta, any shape)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp full fat crème fraîche
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, finely grated + extra to serve
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  1. Put a medium-sized saucepan on to boil with salted water for the pasta.
  2. Prepare your asparagus by snapping off the woody ends, then thinly slice the stalks into 5mm/ ¼ inch rounds. Keep the tips whole unless they are really fat and would be better split in half. Set aside.
  3. Whizz the pistachios in a food process until broken down into a fine crumb. Remove and do the same with the bread. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium-large frying pan over a high heat, add the chilli flakes into the hot oil, and then the breadcrumbs. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until starting to go golden, stirring intermittently so they don’t stick (if you stir too much they won’t crisp up), adjusting the heat down as necessary. Add the pistachios and cook for a further 2 mins, till everything is crispy, zest over the entire skin of the lemon. Tip out the crumbs onto a piece of kitchen towel, and wipe out the frying pan.
  4. Put the frying pan back on a medium heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chopped asparagus stems and saute for 2-3 minutes stirring regularly, until starting to brown, add the garlic then keep on a low heat while your pasta cooks.
  5. Add your fresh pasta to the salted water and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened. Just before the cooking time is up, steal a ladleful of the starchy water and add it to the asparagus along with the crème fraîche and Parmesan to form a loose creamy sauce, season to taste with salt and pepper. Using tongs add your pappardelle into the sauce and toss, adding a little more pasta water if required. Plate up the pasta in individual bowls and scatter the pistachio pangrattato over the top, along with a little more Parmesan if you like.

What do you plan to do with your first Asparagus of 2021?

Recipe retested and updated 2023.