Food & Drink

Farfalle with Roasted Asparagus, Lemon Cream, and Chives

A spring “butterfly” pasta dish from bestselling author Frances Mayes’s new cookbook

Photo: Steven Rothfeld

“Many Italians eat pasta every day—sometimes twice a day. It’s a birthright,” writes Frances Mayes in her new cookbook, Pasta Veloce, a colorful collection of recipes illuminated by photos of the Italian lifestyle the Southern writer fell in love with so many years ago. This recipe uses creamy mascarpone, which imparts a touch of sweetness, and a reliable zing of lemon. Mayes imagines this dish in your springtime lunch spread, accompanied by chicken or fish. Chopped parsley, scallion greens, or minced fresh tarragon work beautifully in place of chives. “This is best when asparagus comes into season and tastes like spring,” she writes, “but the brief roasting boosts flavor any time of year.”

Eat like an Italian with Mayes’s Arugula and Toasted Pine Nut Pesto and BLT Spaghetti. For more from the queen of wanderlust, read her love letter to the magnolia and G&G’s recent interview with her about her book A Place in the World, in which she invites you into her Southern and Italian estates. And of course, order her new cookbook, Pasta Veloce, here.

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  • Farfalle with Roasted Asparagus, Lemon Cream, and Chives (Yield: 4–6 servings)

    • 8 oz. farfalle

    • 1 large bunch asparagus (about 1 lb.), tough ends removed, stalks cut on an angle into 1-inch pieces

    • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

    • 1 egg yolk

    • 1 cup mascarpone, at room temperature

    • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano

    • Grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 1 tbsp. lemon juice

    • ½ tsp. coarse salt

    • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

    • 3 tbsp. minced fresh chives


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until just al dente, 9 to 10 minutes. Scoop out and reserve ⅓ cup of the pasta water before draining.

  2. Meanwhile, toss the asparagus with the olive oil in a bowl. Spread it out in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Roast until just tender but still bright green, 3 to 4 minutes.

  3. In the same bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, mascarpone, ⅓ cup of the Parmigiano, the lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Gradually whisk in the reserved pasta water.

  4. Scrape the sauce into the pasta pot. Add back the cooked pasta and toss over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Do not overcook, or the egg may curdle.

  5. Add the roasted asparagus, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of the chives; toss to mix. Serve with the remaining Parmigiano and chives sprinkled on top.

Reprinted from the new book Pasta Veloce: Irresistibly Fast Recipes from Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes and Susan Wyler. Copyright © 2023 by Frances Mayes and Susan Wyler. Photographs © 2023 by Steven Rothfield. Published by Abrams.