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mini penne with spicy pesto + asparagus |

mini penne with spicy pesto + asparagus

  • Author: The Clever Carrot
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 4


  • 3/4 lb. mini penne
  • 1 lb. bunch fresh asparagus
  • 1 c. basil pesto, homemade or store-bought
  • 1/41/2 tsp. crushed red chili flakes
  • olive oil
  • salt + pepper
  • parmesan or pecorino cheese to taste


  1. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Save about 1 cup of the starchy cooking liquid to loosen your pesto sauce. Drain and set aside until ready to use.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, prepare your asparagus. Trim off the dry, woody ends and discard. On an angle, cut the asparagus to exactly the same size of your mini penne or other pasta (if using).
  3. In a large saute pan, warm a 2 tsp. of olive oil over moderate heat. Add the asparagus and season with salt and pepper. Saute until crisp-tender, about 2- 3 minutes. Any longer and it will lose its bright green color as it will continue to cook once removed from the pan. Transfer to a large serving bowl.
  4. When the pasta is ready, add to the bowl. Dollop the pesto over the top and stir well to combine. Add a little bit of the reserved pasta water if the pesto sauce is to thick. Stir well for a smooth, silky texture.
  5. Add the crushed red chili flakes and sprinkle with cheese, to taste.
  6. Serve warm with a drizzle of olive oil over the top, if desired.