Asparagus and lemon carbonara with cauliflower pangritata

Hallelujah, asparagus season is upon us! The season is short - but the options are endless.

Whether you like asparagus steamed, grilled, roasted or raw you can pretty much enjoy it with every meal. 

Asparagus in pasta works a treat and with a squeeze of lemon, generous handfuls of parmesan and topped with this crispy cauliflower pangritata, which is a take on the classic breadcrumb topping you will be surely making this time and time again.

Serves 4


Cauliflower pangritata

6 cauliflower leaves

200g cauliflower, roughly chopped

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove smashed

1 lemon, zest

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 Tbsp parsley, roughly chopped


500g spaghetti

400g asparagus

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 leaves fresh lovage, finely sliced (if available)

2 cloves garlic, crushed

4 egg yolks

50g freshly grated parmesan cheese

Juice from lemon

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Bring a large deep pot of salted water to the boil.

Using a food processor, place the cauliflower leaves and cauliflower (you may need to do two batches) into the blender and pulse until coarse texture, similar to rustic looking breadcrumbs.

Heat a large fry pan over moderate heat and add the oil, smashed clove of garlic. Add the cauliflower mixture and fry until crisp and golden, stirring often.

Add the lemon zest and parsley, season and set aside.

To prepare the asparagus, remove and discard the woody ends. Cut the spears of asparagus in half lengthways then cut the halves into quarters.

Blanch in the boiling water for 1 minute then remove and drain.

Bring the pot of water back to a rolling boil and add the spaghetti. Cook the spaghetti for the time given on the packet.

While the pasta is cooking. Using a large fry pan, add the oil and heat over moderate heat. Add the garlic and asparagus and herbs, saute so the asparagus gets a little colour.

In a small bowl, add the egg yolks, grated parmesan (leaving a little for serving) and mix together well.

When the spaghetti is tender to the bite (al dente). Drain, keeping a little of the liquid for finishing the pasta.

Add the spaghetti to the pan and toss through with the asparagus.

Add 1- 2 tablespoons of the cooking water to the parmesan and egg mix. Mix well.

Turn off the heat and add the mix to the spaghetti, stir through immediately, squeeze over a little lemon juice, season well with salt and plenty of cracked pepper.

If the pasta is too thick, add a spoon of cooking water at a time to the pasta and stir though.

Serve immediately with the cauliflower pangritata over top and a little more parmesan.


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