Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter [project #45]

p. penne with roasted asparagus

I am going to lightly suggest to you, the reader, that this dish has its roots in Italy, but I cannot prove it to be true. Though there are certain dishes made in Lombardia that bear a striking resemblance to this scrumptious pasta pleaser, normally the Lombard version of this dish would serve with a fried egg on top… which I am now going to incorporate into my dish!

Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter: Total Time 20 minutes: Active time 20 minutes: Serves 4


  • 1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed and spears cut into 1″ pieces*
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 pound penne**
  • 1/4 pound butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving***
  • 4 eggs (optional)


  1. Heat the oven to 400°.  Cook the penne according to package directions and drain. Put the asparagus on a baking sheet and toss with the oil and  salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, put the vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer until 3 tablespoons remain. Stir in the brown sugar and the 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Remove from the heat.
  3. Toss the pasta toss with the butter, vinegar, asparagus, Parmesan, and the remaining a dash of salt. Serve with additional Parmesan.
  4. Fry your eggs and top the portions off with one each.
* Asparagus is only in season for about three months of the year, March, April and May, which means that if you like this dish, you’re going to need an understudy for the seasonal spears. Broccoli, trimmed and roasted for about 15 minutes certainly stands in well. Toasting snow peas would also be a year round option, toast 5-7 minutes, and keep a careful eye on them.
** Whatever pasta that you have on hand is fine. The dish in the photograph uses fresh fettuccine because I had pasta dough made up in the fridge.
*** Since you may already need to switch things up a bit, there would be no harm in changing cheeses around. Choose  a hard cheese that can be grated over top such as pecorino or asiago.

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