The eggs, imported Parmesan reggiano, and a bit of pasta water create a luscious, creamy sauce. Cut the asparagus on the diagonal to make the dish look prettier. Prep the asparagus and mushrooms in advance of cooking the pasta, so the timing of the dish works.

Serves 4

  • 12 ounces penne pasta
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound asparagus, bottom 2 inches trimmed and discarded, cut in 1 1/2- to 2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms (stems removed)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (recommended for best flavor and texture)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup pasta water (reserve from the cooking pot when the pasta is nearly done)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add salt and pasta, and cook until al dente, according to the package directions. (You will need 1/3 cup of the pasta water for the sauce.)

2. Heat the largest skillet you own on medium high. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and asparagus and cook for 4 minutes, stirring often to make sure all sides of the asparagus are cooked. Add a pinch or two of salt. The asparagus will be crisp tender. Place cooked asparagus into a bowl and set aside.

3. In the same skillet, add the remaining two tablespoons of oil on medium-low heat and saute the shiitake mushrooms until done, stirring often.  Season with salt and add to the asparagus, and set the skillet aside.

4. As the pasta cooks, whisk the eggs, Parmesan, lemon zest, and lemon juice together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. When the pasta is nearly cooked, ladle out 1/3 cup pasta water and slowly whisk the hot water into the egg mixture.

5. Drain pasta and immediately place into the large skillet. Add the sauce to the hot pasta and mix well. Add the asparagus and mushrooms. The heat of the pasta should be enough to warm the asparagus and mushrooms, but you can put the skillet on low heat if necessary. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot.

This recipe was originally published with the article, The Age of Asparagus.