Pasta with Asparagus, Lemon, Goat Cheese, & Kale

I basically live on pasta. But mostly I stick to one or two recipes I’ve used for years (pasta con pesto and pasta with roasted veggies) and am too lazy to try new ones. So this recipe stuck out when I saw it on Pinterest, because it included goat cheese and lemon, two of my favorite things. I added the kale part myself, due to my great and abiding love for it.

I made this recipe about a month ago when my family was in town. We went on a cooking and baking spree, trying new recipes left and right. This was actually a side dish when we made it, not the main entree, but it would make a great main dish as well. If you needed more protein, you could toss some pre-cooked chicken in with it too.

Goat cheese makes a really great, quick, creamy pasta sauce. And whether you blanch your pasta with asparagus or swap in string beans, edamame, or any other veggie, this dish comes together so quickly that you can put it in a regular year-round rotation and use whatever is in season.

Cut the asparagus into small, even (bite-size) pieces, removing the bottom tough parts.

Set a pot of water to boil. When it’s ready, add a small handful of salt and add the pasta. Cook according to the directions, but add the asparagus pieces in when there are about two or three minutes left. When finished, drain (reserving a cup of the pasta water) and set aside.

While the pasta and asparagus are cooking, zest the lemon. Keep the lemon, you’ll need the juice.

Break up the goat cheese into pieces in a bowl.

Put the lemon zest, chopped tarragon, and squeeze the lemon juice into the bowl with the goat cheese (look out for seeds!).

Add the olive oil to the mixture.

Stir everything together to create a thick sauce.

In a large pan, saute the kale on medium (5-6 on my stove) with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and a tiny bit of garlic powder and sea salt. You don’t want to overcook it, but get it a little crispy (probably about five minutes).

When the pasta and asparagus is cooked, add to the goat cheese mixture, and toss completely, adding in some of the pasta water to help the sauce stick.

Add in the cooked kale and stir this in as well.

And you’re ready to go. The whole thing takes about 15 minutes from start to finish, and is a great change if you’re more used to jarred sauces or pre-made food on weeknights.

Asparagus, Lemon, Goat Cheese and Kale Pasta

  • 1 pound of spiral-shaped pasta
  • 1 pound of slender asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3-4 handfuls of kale, de-stemmed & torn into pieces
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of finely grated lemon peel (I just used a whole lemon’s worth of zest)
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh tarragon, plus more for garnish
  • 1 log (around 5.5 ounces) of soft fresh goat cheese (the pre-crumbled stuff won’t melt as well)
  • Fresh lemon juice to taste (optional)

Cook the pasta in a large pot of well-salted water according to directions (you’ll want it al dente). With about three minutes left add the asparagus and cook until firm-tender. Drain both pasta and asparagus together, reserving one cup of pasta water. At the same time, in a large pan, saute the kale on medium (5-6 on my stove) with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and a little  sea salt and garlic powder. It should start to crisp up a little, maybe five minutes total (stir frequently). Set aside.

Meanwhile, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, tarragon and goat cheese cheese in a large bowl, breaking up the goat cheese as you put it in. Stir in the olive oil, creating a creamy sauce. Add the drained pasta and asparagus to the bowl, along with a couple slashes of the pasta water. Toss until smoothly combined, adding more pasta water if needed. Stir in the kale as well. Season genersously with salt and pepper. Serves 6.

Original recipe here:



  1. I actually like eating whole grain pasta then I do white pasta. If you cook whole grain pasta a little longer then it says to (like 15 minutes longer) then it gets as soft as white pasta and is very delicious. I am not talking about wheat pasta because it is nasty imo. It takes so long to cook and is tough. But if you make sure to get a premium brand that says whole grain on the front you are getting a healthy type of pasta that is maybe 50 cents more a box. Thats nothing to throw in to get something more healthier. So if you like white pasta, try the whole grain pasta out. I personally like the sea shell pasta myself. Its just as soft as white pasta and tastes great. I use to only eat white pasta myself up until a few years ago. I was very stubborn and said I would never get anything else. If I can make the change anyone can. Taste is whats most important to me sometimes too. I have made the same decision about brown rice


    • I agree, and mostly even prefer whole grain things. I haven’t found whole grain pasta for most shapes that I like taste-wise, though. Still trying some out. Penne is usually okay, but some of the other shapes like the fusili somehow just taste like cardboard. Is there a brand you prefer?


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