Asparagus Pesto and Prosciutto Pasta Shells Recipe

Pesto made without basil? You bet! Fresh asparagus makes this pasta recipe a classic springtime favorite. It’s light, refreshing and elegantly topped with ribbons of salty prosciutto for a perfectly balanced pesto dish. Try this recipe for dinner or  and you’ll have a pasta masterpiece on your hands.


serves: 4 – 6


  • 1 pound shell shaped pasta
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup whole almonds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 6 pounces of prosciutto, cut into thin strips (ribbons)


Step 1: Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set aside.

Step 2: Bring salted water to a boil for pasta.

Step 3: Using a steamer and a pot, steam the asparagus spears covered for 4 minutes. Transfer asparagus to ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain asparagus and pat dry.

Asparagus Pesto Pasta Recipe - Step 3 Asparagus Pesto Pasta - Step 3A

Step 4: In a food processor, pulse asparagus, nuts, almonds, garlic, salt, pepper, cheese and lemon zest until coarsely chopped. Then, with the processor running, stream in olive oil. Process until smooth.

Asparagus Pesto Pasta - Step 4Asparagus Pesto Pasta - Step 4A

Step 5: Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Reserve 1/3 cup pasta water on the side and drain pasta.

Step 6: Add pasta and reserved water to the bowl with the pesto. Toss to coat and top with prosciutto ribbons before serving.

Asparagus Pesto Pasta - Step 5Asparagus Pesto Pasta - Step 6A

Want more pasta recipes?

Find more recipes from Christina Stanley-Salerno at Take Back Your Table.