Asparagus and Chicken Pasta with Goat Cheese and Lemon

I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen the day she posted it, and I immediately printed it.  Since then it has been sitting in my cookbook holder…teasing me with its inevitable deliciousness; making me wonder and dream about how all those yummy ingredients would someday combine in my kitchen to create a clean and delightful pasta dish perfect for summer.  I finally got around to trying it last night.  It was tangy, light and wonderful.  “Light” is not a word often used to describe pasta dishes, but this was not too heavy on the sauce and the flavors are mild and refreshing.  It is also very good at room temperature or just slightly warm.

I added some shredded chicken to this pasta, so I should have increased the sauce a bit.  Also, be careful with the lemon juice.  Add just a bit at a time and taste it to make sure it isn’t too overpowering.  It is a must that you use the creamy style goat cheese and fresh tarragon.  Fresh herbs always make a dish better.


Asparagus, Goat Cheese and Lemon Pasta

From Smitten Kitchen
Adapted from Bon Appetit

Serves 6

  • 1 pound spiral-shaped pasta
  • 1 pound slender asparagus spears, trimmed, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon plus more for garnish
  • 1 5- to 5 1/2-ounce log soft fresh goat cheese (the pre-crumbled stuff will not melt as well)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken)
  • Fresh lemon juice to taste (optional)

Cook your pasta in a large pot of well-salted water until it is almost tender, or about three minutes shy of what the package suggests. Add asparagus and cook until firm-tender, another two to three minutes. Drain both pasta and asparagus together, reserving one cup of pasta water.

Meanwhile, combine olive oil, lemon peel, tarragon and cheese in a large bowl, breaking up the goat cheese as you put it in. Add hot pasta and asparagus to bowl, along with a couple slashes of the pasta water and the shredded chicken. Toss until smoothly combined, adding more pasta water if needed. Season generously with salt and pepper, and lemon juice to taste.