Gemelli with Asparagus, Ricotta, Arugula, and Lemon Zest Recipe


Where's the water? Check out the science behind this cooking method here.

Recipe Facts

Cook: 35 mins
Total: 35 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 pound gemelli, fusilli, rotini or any other medium-thickness short pasta

  • 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese

  • 1 tablespoon zest from 1 lemon

  • 2 cups loosely packed baby arugula leaves

  • 2 ounces finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving tableside


  1. Heat oil in large heavy-bottomed sauce pot over high heat until just starting to smoke. Add asparagus pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender-crisp and lightly browned. Season asparagus to taste with salt and pepper, transfer to bowl, and set aside. Do not clean sauce pot.

  2. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and stir immediately. Allow to return to a boil, stir once vigorously, cover pot, and shut off heat. After one minute, stir one last time. Recover pot. Follow timing on box as a general guide for cooking time—start checking pasta 2 minutes before suggested cooking time and continue checking every minute until proper al dente texture is reached. Pasta should be fully softened, but retain a slight bite in the center. Drain pasta, reserving 2 cups of cooking liquid. Immediately transfer pasta to empty sauce pot from cooking asparagus.

  3. Add asparagus, ricotta, lemon zest, arugula, grated cheese, and a few big twists of black pepper to the pasta. Add 1 cup pasta water and stir until all ingredients are combined and arugula has wilted. Continue adding pasta water until desired consistency is reached (the ricotta should turn into a creamy sauce that coats the noodles). Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve immediately, passing more grated cheese at the table.


Use a high quality ricotta cheese for this recipe. Check the ingredients label—it should contain nothing but milk, salt, and an acid or starter enzyme. Avoid any brand that uses gums or stabilizers.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
652 Calories
18g Fat
94g Carbs
29g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 652
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 22%
Saturated Fat 7g 34%
Cholesterol 34mg 11%
Sodium 604mg 26%
Total Carbohydrate 94g 34%
Dietary Fiber 6g 23%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 29g
Vitamin C 12mg 61%
Calcium 390mg 30%
Iron 5mg 30%
Potassium 646mg 14%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)