Creamy Pasta with Asparagus and Bacon

Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables especially when incorporated into a fabulous dish. My kids dislike asparagus but love Creamy Pasta with Asparagus & Bacon – they say that bacon makes everything better!

I am guilty of buying asparagus, putting it away in the refrigerator drawer, and finding it when it has only a day or so left. Fresh green beans are also really nice in this dish. If you have family with selective palates, this is a wonderful way to get them to eat vegetables – the creamy and flavorful sauce complements the vegetables well.

I love to add extra garnish to complement the bacon and Parmesan. I grab some fresh herbs from my little herb garden, chop them, and sprinkle on top. Then I cut a lemon and squeeze a bit of juice over the pasta. The added color and freshness of the herbs mixed with the brightness of the lemon are lovely.

Ingredients

  • 8 slices bacon – chopped

  • 8 oz. Baby-Bella mushrooms – sliced

  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

  • 3 cups milk, divided (2 cups and 1 cup)

  • 12 oz. Farfalle pasta (Bowtie pasta)

  • 1 lb. asparagus – trim the tough ends and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 4 oz. cream cheese – softened

  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese – shredded or freshly grated

Directions

  • Cook the pasta about 3 minutes less than the lowest minutes given on the package – not yet al dente. Drain the pasta, rinse, and set aside.
  • In a 12-inch nonstick skillet or a cast iron skillet (my favorite), cook the bacon until crispy.
  • Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour the bacon grease into a bowl – do not discard because you will need some later.
  • Using the same pan from the bacon, heat to medium heat, add the mushrooms, and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  • Cook the mushrooms until browned and the liquid is mostly evaporated – 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the same plate as bacon.
  • In a larger pot, add the broth, 2 cups of milk, the pasta, ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper.
  • Bring the mixture to a vigorous simmer and cook for about 8-9 minutes, stirring occasionally and moderating the heat so the mixture simmers but doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
  • Stir in the asparagus and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes – until the asparagus is tender and the pasta is al dente but still slightly firm (it will continue to cook). There will be a bit of liquid left; that is how it should be as it will help make the creamy sauce in the next step.
  • In a blender, combine 1 cup of milk, cream cheese, and flour and blend until completely smooth.
  • Slowly add the mixture to the pot while stirring quickly to combine. Simmer for a couple of minutes until the sauce has thickened.
  • Remove the pot from the heat. Reserve a bit of bacon for a garnish and stir the rest of the bacon with the mushrooms into the sauce.
  • Stir in the Parmesan cheese.
  • Plate the pasta and garnish with bacon and more Parmesan cheese, if desired.
See also  RUTH’S CHRIS SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

Notes
• Pasta: Farfalle pasta is our family favorite, so I always have it on hand. If you prefer another type of pasta, it will work well unless the pasta is really small. Penne pasta is an excellent choice.

• Sauce: This is a saucy pasta which is how we like our pasta dishes. If you want slightly less sauce, consider adding only 3 ½ cups of broth and adding more at the end, if needed. Keep in mind that the sauce will thicken more as the pasta rests.

• Asparagus: If asparagus doesn’t work for your family, substituting fresh green beans works beautifully.

• Garnish: I recommend adding a sprinkle of bacon and Parmesan for the added flavor. I highly recommend sprinkling chopped fresh herbs and adding a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the pasta – it makes the dish pop!