Pasta with Asparagus, Pancetta, and Walnuts

March 18th, 2011

Pancetta makes everything better.  Many people say that about bacon, but my preference is pancetta.  Pancetta is salt cured pork belly and is not smoked like bacon.  What I love about it is that when diced and fried crisp, it is like eating toffee bits.  It is so crispy and the flavor is intense.  This recipe only calls for 2 ounces, but it is enough.

The asparagus in the markets right now is beautiful; bright green and firm.  I added it to the pasta three minutes before it was done to save on pots.  This is one of those dishes that comes together easily and is perfect for a busy day.

My Brother Bill and SIL Barb are coming from Michigan for a visit starting this weekend and then next weekend we will be heading back to welcome Spring in the North Carolina mountains.  Lake Lure beckons this time of year.



8 ounces Penne pasta
1 pound of asparagus, trimmed and cut into pieces
1 clove of minced garlic
1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces
2 ounces of diced pancetta
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Have the deli cut a 2 to 3 ounce slice of pancetta.  Dice the pancetta and saute in a skillet until the fat is rendered and the pancetta is golden brown and crisp.

Cook the pasta according to package directions and 3 minutes before it is done, add the asparagus.  Drain, reserving some of the pasta water.  Put pasta mixture in a bowl and add the garlic. 

Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper.  Whisk together.  Drizzle over the pasta mixture; toss well to coat and add a little pasta water if it is too dry.  Sprinkle with the pancetta, walnuts and Parmesan.  Mix together and serve.  4 servings.

Printable recipe 

12 responses to “Pasta with Asparagus, Pancetta, and Walnuts”

  1. Donnie says:

    We’re heading back the 28th so may pass on the road. It sure is getting pretty up there. This looks like a lovely recipe.

  2. You’re so right. Pancetta makes everything taste better. Enjoy spring at the lake. I know it’s really lovely there this time of the year. We’ll be here until everything in the condo is completed, which, as always, takes more time than you think.

  3. Pondside says:

    That looks delicious, and I love your description of what pancetta tastes like to you.

  4. Momgateway says:

    I am enjoying this beautiful pasta dish right now but I had to substitute turkey bacon for the pancetta but it was still delicious…

  5. Betsy says:

    That looks so delicious! I’m adding walnuts and pancetta to my grocery list!

  6. I’d love to try this. I bet my husband will love it!


  7. Big Dude says:

    Great looking dish Penny and I assume you’re getting fresh picked asparagus – ours is up but not enough to pick yet – I can’t wait

  8. It looks and sounds delicious! I am looking forward to your being back home. We need to spend more time together this year. Today was almost 80 degrees!!

  9. Pondside says:

    Me again – I just made this and it is delicious. I didn’t have pancetta and I had only rottini in the pantry, but it all came together beautifully and I’m taking it to potluck at my parents’ place.

  10. Penny says:

    Honora, Thanks for the feedback. Glad you liked it. You too Momgateway!

  11. Rita says:

    This looks splendid. I love pancetta and I’m not crazy about bacon. This simple recipe is a keeper; thank you.

  12. I’m enjoying the asparagus in season right now too. And I agree with your preference for pancetta, it’s just so much more substantial. I never thought of it as eating toffee bits, but yes, I can see with the caramelization that happens, and how wonderfully it flavors everything.

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.