If you’ve been around PWWB for a while, you know that my truest culinary love in life is pasta. There’s nothing I love more than a good pasta dish & pasta recipes are my favorite to develop. Today we’re cooking up the ultimate springtime pasta, Creamy Mascarpone Pasta with Chicken & Asparagus.
This chicken asparagus pasta recipe is very much inspired by one of my favorite restaurant pasta dishes in Minneapolis, the #11 at Broder’s Pasta Bar. (If you know, you know!) The #11 is one of the most unique & surprising pastas I’ve ever had – a creamy pasta with chicken & asparagus, but the creamy pasta sauce is laced with the bright flavor of white balsamic, the pasta is tossed with wilty spring greens, & it’s finished with a sprinkling of sliced almonds. It sounds so bizarre, but everything comes together beautifully. It’s seriously amazing.
I’ve tinkered with this mascarpone pasta recipe for some time, trying to emulate the flavors & textures of the restaurant dish I love so much. & I gotta say, this creamy chicken & asparagus pasta comes pretty darn close!
Springtime Chicken Asparagus Pasta – Recipe Highlights
This creamy mascarpone pasta is…
- SIMPLE. It’s made with just a handful of pantry staples & seasonal ingredients that you probably always have hand during the spring.
- QUICK. A 30-minute recipe that takes just 15 minutes to prep & 15 minutes to cook. It’s the perfect weeknight dinner, & it’s also great for an impromptu dinner with friends.
- RESTAURANT-QUALITY. The flavors & textures at play are so surprising & fun. You will love it!
Pure springtime goodness. ♡ Read on to learn more about this Creamy Springtime Mascarpone Pasta recipe, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!
Springtime Mascarpone Pasta Key Ingredients
This springtime mascarpone pasta dish is made with just a handful of ingredients, a combination of pantry staples & seasonal ingredients.
Key ingredients include…
- Pasta of choice – I suggest using a short pasta with lots of texture for the mascarpone pasta sauce to cling to. Pictured here is casarecce.
- Chicken – Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs are great here!
- Spring vegetables – Namely asparagus, sweet peas, shallot, & garlic. Because it’s in season, look for gorgeous, thick asparagus spears. If you can easily find fresh shelled English peas, they work beautifully here. If not, frozen sweet peas are great!
- Mascarpone – Of course! Mascarpone is a soft, Italian cow’s milk cheese. It’s often compared to American cream cheese since it has a velvety, spreadable texture, but mascarpone is notably richer in flavor. You can find mascarpone in most conventional grocery stores with a nice cheese assortment, or head to your fave local Italian deli.
- White balsamic vinegar – The secret ingredient! A generous splash of white balsamic is what makes the mascarpone pasta sauce shine. You can use a darker balsamic if you’d like but keep in mind that the pasta will be a bit more intensely flavored & the color of the sauce will darken.
Prep note: This mascarpone chicken asparagus pasta comes together very quickly! Set yourself up for success by getting all of the chopping & measuring done before you start cooking – dice the shallot, chop the garlic, trim & chop the asparagus, dice the chicken, measure the cheeses, etc. Place everything within arm’s reach from the stovetop & cooking dinner will be a much smoother process!
The easiest way to cook asparagus for chicken asparagus pasta:
The first thing you’ll do to prep your mascarpone chicken asparagus pasta is boil the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta, & cook according to package directions to al dente.
Just before the pasta reaches al dente, add the asparagus to the pot. This is the best way to cook asparagus for chicken asparagus pasta – the asparagus blanches to a perfect tender-crisp doneness while the pasta finishes cooking. If your asparagus is gorgeous, thick springtime asparagus, add it to the pot about 90 seconds before the pasta finishes cooking. If your asparagus is on the thinner side, 45-60 seconds will be plenty.
A few friendly reminders for boiling pasta:
- Boil in generously salted water! – This is the only opportunity you have to season the pasta itself! Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add a generous amount of salt, then add the pasta.
- Do not add oil to the pasta water! – Oil coats the surface of the pasta, preventing the mascarpone pasta sauce from clinging to it nicely in your final dish. Skip the oil…instead, stir your pasta every few minutes as it cooks to prevent sticking.
- Do not rinse hot pasta! – Once the pasta & asparagus are cooked, strain them but do not rinse with cold (or hot!) water. Rinsing will shock the pasta & wash the starchy goodness off the surface of the pasta, both of which prevent the pasta from absorbing & clinging to the mascarpone pasta sauce.
Mascarpone Pasta Sauce – Simple & Quick!
Meanwhile, as the pasta boils, you’ll prep the mascarpone pasta sauce. The mascarpone pasta sauce is a simple pan sauce; it is made by deglazing the skillet used to cook the aromatics & chicken for this chicken asparagus pasta.
This may sound fancy, but it’s actually really quick & simple:
- Cook the aromatics & chicken. Heat some olive oil in a skillet, then add the shallot, chicken, & garlic. Cook until the aromatics are fragrant & the chicken is just cooked through. It is best to avoid nonstick cookware here & opt for stainless steel or cast iron instead. Why ⇢ The browned bits (i.e. fond) that develop on the bottom of the pan are the foundation of a flavorful pan sauce. Stainless & cast iron cookware promote browning in a way that nonstick does not.
- Deglaze: Once the aromatics are fragrant & the chicken is cooked through, increase the heat under the pan & deglaze with some of the salty, starchy pasta water. As you deglaze, use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape up any browned bits that may have formed at the bottom of the pan. Why ⇢ As the pasta water creates steam as it hits the pan, releasing the browned bits (i.e. fond) that developed on the bottom. This is where the flavor is, so you want to scrape it up to incorporate it into your mascarpone pasta sauce.
- Build the creamy mascarpone sauce: Add mascarpone & parmesan to the pan, stirring occasionally, until the mascarpone is melted & the sauce is thickened slightly. Finish with a splash of white balsamic vinegar, which lifts & brightens the flavor of the creamy mascarpone pasta sauce.
That’s it! Less than 10 minutes later you’ll have a beautiful & restaurant-worthy homemade mascarpone pasta sauce ready to be tossed into the best chicken asparagus pasta you’ll ever have. Pretty simple!
The finishing touches!
With the pasta cooked, asparagus blanched, & the mascarpone pasta sauce ready to go, all that’s left to do are finishing touches for your creamy chicken & asparagus pasta dinner:
- Finish the mascarpone pasta: Add pasta, asparagus, sweet peas, & spring greens to the skillet with the mascarpone sauce, tossing to combine. Why ⇢ Finishing the pasta in the creamy mascarpone sauce brings everything together into one cohesive dish, creates a beautifully glossy restaurant-quality pasta dish. Plus, the residual heat of the sauce & the pasta will quickly thaw the sweet peas & wilt the spring greens.
- If needed, adjust the sauce: Fold in extra mascarpone for a creamier chicken asparagus pasta, extra pasta water if the mascarpone pasta sauce is too tight, or sprinkle in some extra parmesan to thicken. Trust your judgement, adjust to your liking!
- Serve immediately, with a splash of white balsamic & an extra sprinkling of parmesan. For a true nod to the restaurant dish that inspired this recipe, top with some sliced almonds, which add the most pleasant little bit of texture to every bite. (Almonds on pasta may sound strange, but it’s truly divine…trust me!)
I can’t wait for you to try this creamy chicken asparagus pasta! It’s one of my favorites, especially for springtime, & I know you’ll love it too. If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!Print
A new staple, Creamy Mascarpone Pasta with Chicken & Asparagus! The best springtime ingredients – shallots, garlic, asparagus, sweet peas – are tossed with perfectly al dente pasta in a homemade mascarpone pasta sauce brightened with white balsamic. This chicken asparagus pasta is the best weeknight dinner for spring!
- 8 ounces pasta of choice, casarecce pictured
- 16 ounces asparagus, woody ends trimmed & cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large shallot, finely diced
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 4 ounces mascarpone (about 1/2 cup – see Recipe Notes)
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- 4–6 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup frozen sweet peas
- 4 ounces spring greens
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
Prep note: Once you begin cooking, this mascarpone pasta comes together very quickly! I suggest starting by getting all of the chopping, measuring & other prep odds & ends out of the way so cooking is a smooth process: dice the shallot, grate/dice the garlic, trim & chop the asparagus, dice the chicken, measure the cheeses, etc. Place everything within an arm’s reach from the stovetop.
- Boil the pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, generously salt the water. Add the pasta and cook to al dente according to package directions. About 90 seconds before al dente is reached, add the chopped asparagus to the pot to blanch with the pasta as the pasta finishes cooking. Reserve 1 cup of the starchy pasta water. Drain the pasta and set aside.
- Cook the chicken: Meanwhile, as the pasta boils, cook the aromatics & chicken. Add the olive oil to a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Once hot & shimmering, add in the shallot. Cook 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened & aromatic. Add in the chicken, seasoning with 1 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Cook 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, just until chicken is cooked through. Add in the garlic & stir to combine.
- Build the creamy mascarpone sauce: Increase the heat under the pan to medium-high. Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water, using a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape up any browned bits that may have formed at the bottom of the pan. Add in the mascarpone & parmesan. Simmer 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mascarpone is melted & the sauce is thickened slightly. Stir in the white balsamic vinegar.
- Finish the mascarpone pasta: Add pasta, blanched asparagus, sweet peas, & spring greens to the skillet with the chicken & mascarpone sauce. Toss to combine, coating the pasta & veggies in the mascarpone sauce. Cook 1-2 minutes more, bringing everything together & allowing the greens to wilt slightly. If needed, adjust the sauce – add in more mascarpone to make it creamier, more pasta water to loosen it up, or more parmesan to thicken. Taste & season with additional kosher salt & ground black pepper, as desired.
- Serve the mascarpone pasta immediately, topped with sliced almonds. Enjoy!
- Mascarpone is a soft, Italian cow’s milk cheese. It’s often compared to American cream cheese since it has a velvety, spreadable texture, but mascarpone is notably richer in flavor. You can find mascarpone in most conventional grocery stores with a nice cheese assortment, or head to your fave local Italian deli. If you cannot find mascarpone, the best substitute for this recipe is crème fraîche.
- Storage & reheating: Leftover creamy mascarpone pasta will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until warmed through.
- 10-Minute Meal Prep: Nearly all of the active prep work for this creamy mascarpone pasta comes from chopping the veggies & chicken. Get it all done in advance to get a head start on your pasta dinner – it’ll take 10 minutes, tops:
- Chop the asparagus – Remove the woody ends from 16 ounces asparagus, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Dice the shallot – Peel & finely dice 1 large shallot. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Dice the chicken – Finely dice 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast into 1/2-inch pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Keywords: mascarpone pasta, creamy, easy, 30-minute recipe, weeknight recipe, date night, girls night, spring
Recipe & Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.