Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter

Let me take the liberty of ordering you around for a second:

1) Get yourself to the store and buy some fresh asparagus. Now. (Pretty please.)

2) Come home. Put some water on to boil. A little balsamic vinegar on to simmer. Roast up that asparagus.

3) Throw this pasta together. (Yes, it really is that simple. Get out! I know.)

4) Try not to eat the whole pot while relishing in the fact that you just made some of the most delicious, light pasta filled with roasted asparagus and lightly covered in a slightly sweet balsamic sauce and salty Parmesan cheese – all in about 30 minutes (well, perhaps more since I have no idea how far your grocery store is).

Simple. Flavorful. On the healthyish end of the pasta spectrum. Seriously, one of the best pasta dishes of the year, in my little podunk opinion.

Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter

What To ServeApple Stuffed Chicken BreastsBroiled Parmesan and  Lemon Chicken, or Crispy Oven-Baked Chicken
A simple green salad (or for something more fancy this Gourmet Green Salad)
Fresh, seasonal fruit

One Year Ago: Lemon Poppy Seed Sugar Cookies
Two Years Ago: Perfect Potato Salad
Three Years Ago: Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies

Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter

Yield: Serves 4-6

Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter

If asparagus aren’t in season, cut 1 pound of broccoli into small spears for roasting. Toss them with 2 tablespoon oil and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper and roast for about 15 minutes. Ok, if you want to take this to a whole new level, try browning the butter before adding it to the pasta.


  • 1 pound fresh asparagus spears
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving


  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Snap the tough ends off the asparagus and discard them. Cut the asparagus spears into 1-inch pieces. Put the asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the oil and ¼ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ of the pepper. Roast until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  2. While the asparagus roasts, put the vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until the vinegar is reduced to about 3 tablespoons, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar and the remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper. Remove from the heat.
  3. Cook the penne in a large pot of boiling salted water until just done, 11-13 minutes. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Stir in the butter and vinegar mixture. Toss to combine well. Add in the asparagus, Parmesan, and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Serve immediately with additional Parmesan cheese for serving.

Recipe Source: adapted from Food and Wine Quick From Scratch Pasta Cookbook

94 Responses to Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter

  1. Kim in MD says:

    Podunk opinion? I will take your word about a recipe any day! Your recipes are no-fail, never let me down recipes, Melanie! This pasta looks amazing! I am trying to convince my family to go meatless one or two days a week, and this gorgeous pasta is on the menu for next week. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  2. StephenC says:

    Meatless occasionally is a great thing to do – for health – and budget. Roasted asparagus is one of nature’s miracles.

  3. kaylene says:

    um, for real… if I had to marry a blog, it would be yours!! haha I cannot even tell you how much I love making dinner now because of this blog.

  4. Tomi Ann says:

    Yum! I have a bunch of asparagus already in the fridge, just waiting to be roasted up — I think this may be its destiny!

  5. I was dreaming of pasta with asparagus the other day and now you have made my dream come true!!!

  6. Jessica says:

    Before Christmas I was telling my Grandma how I didn’t really care for asparagus. Now that I learned to roast it in the oven, it is one of my favorite vegetables! Pair that with some pasta, balsamic vinegar (which I also love) and salty cheese??? OH, YEAH!

  7. I love this idea! Gonna get me some asparagus at the farmer’s market this weekend and make this for sure! Thanks for a great dinner idea 🙂

  8. Jane says:

    I will definitely follow your orders. I can’t wait to try it!

  9. Mrs. Jen B says:

    Heaven on a plate. Good thing I’d good at following orders!

  10. I have been on such an asparagus kick lately and this sounds like a perfect way to use it!

  11. Adam says:

    I love pasta… and now I want pasta… it’s going to be a long wait for dinner :).

  12. Love this simple recipe! I’m in luck because I have all of these ingredients in my kitchen!

  13. PERFECT spring meal! can’t wait to make this!

  14. Pauline says:

    Sounds wonderful! I love asparagus and balsamic vinegar. Can’t wait to make it. Tonight we’re trying your Chicken Enchilada Pasta and Black & White Bean Dip.

  15. Val A. H. says:

    This recipe came at a perfect time. I was just wondering what I should make for dinner on this busy Friday. I have everything on hand for this recipe too. Thanks Melaine…this sounds easy and wonderful!

  16. Mel, this pasta dish looks perfect and I love your addition of balsamic vinegar and asparagus… Just the inspired dinner idea I have been needing after being away from cooking for a week. Thanks for sharing. I hope you have a great weekend!

  17. Bri says:

    I cracked up when I read Kaylene’s comment because I totally agree! I have a total blog crush on this blog. LOVE. IT.

  18. cindy harris says:

    I have everything in the kitchen to make it. Hubby will be happy.

  19. Natalie says:

    I make something similar to this, it’s Rachel Ray’s farmer’s market pasta. It’s really tasty, and makes you feel so good with all the green veggies

  20. Kapalua girl says:

    Made this recipe last night and it was delish! Hubby (who is a very picky eater) loved it. Served it up with Caesar salad and homemade croutons. Thanks for another great recipe!

  21. Thank you Mel for this beautiful recipe. Roasted asparagus and balsamic reduction is so perfect together and pairs well with Grüner Veltliner.
    Judit & Corina

  22. Karie says:

    Thanks this was great! Super tasty the roasted Asparagus took it to a hole new level. Ever better the kids loved it too.

  23. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for another great recipe idea! I roasted some grape tomatoes and onion with the asparagus for even more veggie goodness. My husband isn’t crazy about vinegar, so I actually didn’t use the sauce. When we were done with dinner, I tasted the sauce again and I thought it was better for having sat for a while. My husband tasted it and said he would like it over the pasta next time. I’ll definitely be making this again!

  24. Liss says:

    I made this tonight with a few different ingredients. Instead of asparagus I used zucchini ($2.50lb less). I chopped the zucchini, roasted it w/ half an onion and a few garlic cloves. For the cheese I used asiago. And whole wheat penne for the pasta. Delicious, easy and the kids enjoyed it.

  25. Carolyn Jung says:

    You had me at “balsamic butter.” What a genius touch that’s so simple to do. And who can get enough asparagus at this time of year? No one! 😉

  26. Erika says:

    This was SUPER yummy plus a HIT with my entire family! Not too often that happens! My kids didn’t *love* the asparagus but they ate it without too much of a problem but they loved the sauce & pasta. My husband had thirds!! Not too often he does that with a pasta dinner. Thank you for a wonderful, healthy, easy & FAST dinner recipe I can make often now Mel!

  27. Jessica says:

    This was really good! My hubby isn’t a fan of vinegar, and yet he really enjoyed it! Thanks for a great recipe!

  28. Mary says:

    I made this for my family tonight and it was a huge hit! I added some turkey sausage because I had some in the fridge to use up and that was a tasty addition but even without the meat, this was a dinner I will make again and again. I’ve tried a few of your recipes and this has been my favorite so far.

  29. Yummy, I love baby asparegus and parm.

  30. Jennifer Smith says:

    LOVED THIS!!!! Added chicken and it was a hit!!!! Your taste buds are my

  31. Alison says:

    I made this for dinner last night and my whole family loved it! I added grilled chicken and it was delicious.

  32. Katie says:

    Success! I made this for a dinner party last night and everyone loved it! You are a lifesaver – thanks!!

  33. Briana says:

    oh my gosh, you did it again! i had some ladies over for what my husband would call chick food today for lunch and i made this with a strawberry spinach salad with poppyseed dressing and sugared pecans… SO GOOD! it is a compliment to you that i trust your food enough to make it for the first time when i am having people over!

  34. queenann says:

    Very tasty. I wanted just a bit more of the balsamic stuff, but I survived. In fact, I ate WAY more than my recommended daily allowance of pasta.


  35. Kendra says:

    Holey Moley. BIG HIT with the husband and me!! We looove asparagus, and this is light, meatless, addicting, and all too easy! New go-to recipe! Thanks so much!

  36. sadie says:

    Yum! This was really yummy. Even my kids gobbled it up. Thanks for a great recipe.

  37. Thanks so much for the recipe! My husband and 2 year old polished off the entire pot and my little one kept saying, “Yummy!” We used the broccoli because asparagus is so expensive right now and my husband was singing my praises! All thanks to you!

  38. Claire says:

    Great recipe! I made a version using broccoli and snow peas and added some pomegranate molasses into the mix – check it out on my blog:

  39. […] Veggie Pasta with Pomegranate Balsamic Reduction (adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe) Yield: 6 […]

  40. Vicki Morris says:

    When and where do you add the butter?

  41. Alex says:

    I had fresh green beans and onions, so i sauteed them instead of asparagus… yum

  42. Wanda says:

    I made this tonight and it was AWESOME!!! I added a few things: sauteed onion and garlic, sauteed smoked turkey sausage, sauteed the asparagus (instead of roasted), and added a bit of julienned sundried tomatoes (that were packed in oil, but I drained them). Tossed it all together and added a little feta cheese as well as parmesan on top. OH MY WORD!!!!!!

  43. Lauren says:

    Penne Pasta

  44. Lauren says:


  45. […] Cheddar Biscuits Chicken Teriyaki Parmesan Hash Brown Cups Spinach Dip Pasta Spinach Dip Bites Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter Spicy Peanut Butter Noodles Honey Sesame Chicken Chicken Gyros Pad Thai Lemon Garlic Pasta Avocado […]

  46. Karen says:

    Loved this recipe. A do over for sure.

  47. Dhara says:

    Just made this! I am new to your blog and I am already in love!! This dish was delicious!! 🙂 Thank you for such an awesome recipe!

  48. Shari says:

    Is this meant as a chilled pasta dish or warm dish?

  49. Mel says:

    Shari – we eat it warm at our house but you could certainly try serving it chilled.

  50. Amy says:

    I made this tonight and really liked it. I was a little confused on where to add the butter though.”stir in the butter and the vinegar”. I couldn’t decide if I just added it in or added it to the vinegar. I just saw a comment that you said to add it to the vinegar. Oh well, it still turned out fine just adding it in.
    I have leftovers and I pretty excited! Thanks for another great recipe.

  51. Teri says:

    I roasted some asparagus last night and had leftovers. I used it in this recipe. WOW! Great flavor combinations. It was a wonderful and easy lunch since I already had the roasted asparagus. This is a keeper.

  52. Emily says:

    I made this for dinner last night and it was absolutely delicious. I usually steam asparagus, but I will definitely be roasting it from now on! I reduced a lot of the ingredients, though, since I was only feeding two people. It was about 12 oz. asparagus, 8 oz. pasta, 3 tbsp. butter and just under 1/2 cup vinegar. Oh and of course the full amount of cheese. Thanks for another excellent dinner recipe!

  53. Jill says:

    An excellent dish! I made this for dinner last night with bow tie pasta because that’s what I had on hand and to my surprise, my extremely picky 2-year-old gobbled it up. Sure, she picked out the asparagus, but she couldn’t get enough of the pasta. My 6-year-old even took the leftovers to school today and ate it cold. He said it was a great lunch! Thanks!

  54. Debbie says:

    This was definitely a keeper I added mushrooms and peppers. I added the butter to the balsamic after it was done to melt, wasn’t sure if that was right, but it sure was good.

  55. Tina says:

    Found this recipe on Pinterest today and had all the ingredients handy. It was so delicious and easy. Even the teenagers liked it! Thank you!!!

  56. Brenda says:

    We loved this recipe!!!! Thank you~

  57. Nancy says:

    Made this tonight for dinner… It was sooooo wonderful I cannot thank you enough!!

  58. Mark says:

    I made this, and also added some grilled and chopped spicy chorizo sausage. Went down a treat!!! Perfect summer dish. Can’t get people’s fingers away from it!

  59. Jillian says:

    I saw this on Pinterest and just had to make it! I got some delicious asparagus from my local CSA and needed a quick dinner tonight, so this was what I choose. All I can say is “OH MY GOODNESS!!” So yummy! I love the depth & flavor that the reduced balsamic gives this dish coupled with the warm buttery noodles. This will be something I make again and again. And since I’ve just found your blog, I will be back for more! Thanks!

  60. michelle says:

    Loved this- thanks!! I wanted more of the yummy asparagus! I added feta to the leftovers- soooooo good!

  61. […] Serious Vegetarian Gumbo Tuesday: Miso Udon Noodles with Tofu Wednesday: Penne with Roasted Asparagus & Balsamic Butter – Rick’s Night to Cook Thursday: Sticky Chinese Chicken with Rice and Green Beans […]

  62. Cammee says:

    I made this for dinner tonight and it is so delicious. I think the flavors are perfect together. Thanks for another hit Mel!

  63. April H says:

    I just made this for my lunches for the next few days and it was awesome! I doubt it will last as long as I thought it would around here. 😉

  64. Nikole says:

    Oh my goodness-this is fantastic! It’s so simple….but somehow the balsamic and the brown sugar combine into something out of this world delicious! Thanks for a recipe I will use again and again.

  65. Karolyn says:

    My family LOVED this. I mean LOVED. Winning dad over after the smell of reducing vinegar filled our kitchen was tough, but now the Carnivor-man is singing my praises! It’s great to perfect talents at home as a college graduate 😉

  66. Mark says:

    I added Pinenuts and Feta and it took it to the next level. Thanks for the amazing recipe!

  67. This Week's Menu - Gamerwife says:

    […] Serious Vegetarian Gumbo Tuesday: Miso Udon Noodles with Tofu Wednesday: Penne with Roasted Asparagus & Balsamic Butter – Rick’s Night to Cook Thursday: Sticky Chinese Chicken with Rice and Green Beans […]

  68. Jill says:

    AWESOME DISH!! WOrks for a great side dish or just add cubed chicken breast for a complete meal!!! The chicken takes on SO MIUCH FLAVOR!!!!!

  69. […] Even though asparagus is not in season, it doesn’t stop us from making this dish, you can even substitute the asparagus for broccoli. Recipe adapted from […]

  70. Jenny says:

    This is different and amazing! Stumbled apon this site looking for a balsamic pasta. Not disappointed. Cant wait to try other reciped!

  71. Jenny says:

    Made this again but added grilled chicken and mushrooms once again amazing, leftovers made coworkers oooh and awe over the smell in the breakroom!

  72. […] Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter (from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe) […]

  73. Jordon Mozzone says:

    The most common type of asparagus is green, but you might see two others in supermarkets and restaurants: white, which is more delicate and difficult to harvest, and purple, which is smaller and fruitier in flavor. No matter the type you choose, asparagus is a tasty, versatile vegetable that can be cooked in myriad ways or enjoyed raw in salads. -‘-^

    Have a nice day

  74. Katie says:

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was so delicious. I used broccoli and halved the recipe since it’s just my husband and I, a three year old who won’t eat, and a one year old who eat’s tons but is still tiny. We ate every bite, and I was left wishing I’d made the whole amount. Next time I’ll add chicken if I’m making it for dinner (to help it go farther and be a little more filling, plus I have a balsamic grilled chicken that I think would pair nicely with the pasta). But I plan on making this (as is) often as a lunch for me and the girls at home.

  75. Celia says:

    I wonder if this would be good with fresh green beans? I have some in my garden that need to be picked pronto…

  76. Thuhairah says:

    I don’t usually comment but I felt that I would be doing an injustice if I didn’t. This was the first recipe I tried when I found your website and I have to say it tasted awesome! My friends and family just loved it. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!

  77. Lien says:

    Mel, you must try this using browned butter!

    • Mel says:

      Lien – ah! Actually I have and forgot to update the post. Thanks for the reminder. It truly is divine with browned butter.

  78. Aubrie S says:

    Oh Mel, this was amazing! I made this for dinner last night and it was the best meal I’ve had all year. My husband and kids weren’t crazy about it (not asparagus fans), but I was more than happy to hoard the leftovers for myself! I roasted a chopped red bell pepper and some sliced fresh mushrooms with the asparagus, and browned the butter. Seriously. Best meal ever.

  79. Mimi says:

    We love this recipe! We like it meatless, but I also add shredded chicken on a regular basis (increasing the balsamic vinegar some). I decided to share that version on my blog today with the nutritional information. Sooooo good! Thanks!

  80. Roasted Asparagus and Chicken Pasta with Balsamic Butter | Mimi's Fit Foods says:

    […] Roasted Asparagus and Chicken Pasta with Balsamic Butter Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe […]

  81. Julie says:

    This is one of my favorite meals! I add a bell pepper and onion strips to the asparagus and then cube a ham steak and put it in. A complete, uber-delicious meal. Thanks you!

  82. Sam says:

    I have never commented on a food blog before, but I felt I needed to express how awesome this recipe was. I have a really hard time finding balsamic vinegar recipes that don’t taste too sour, and this was actually perfect. Definitely a repeat.

  83. Melissa says:

    Loved it!!! This was amazing and easy!!

  84. Adrienne says:

    My husband and I loved this. The balsamic is soooo good!

  85. Tamara says:

    My family was skeptical about the smell while I cooked the balsamic vinegar but were pleasantly surprised wight he tasty finished product. I have four little ones. I has been awhile since we have all enjoyed one meal. This recipe is going in our make again rotation. Thanks for sharing it!

  86. cyndi says:

    i REALLY love this recipe…i’ve made it twice now…the first time i followed the recipe exactly…second time i browned the butter and threw a few cloves of minced garlic into the butter once it was off the heat and also added portabello mushrooms…it was absolutely divine…soooooo, add another hit to my reportoire thanks to the fabulous Mel!!

  87. Christie says:

    Browned my butter and oh man, so good.

  88. Angela says:

    I don’t even know how many times I’ve made this dish and I fall in love with it every time. From the sweetness of the brown sugar, the tang of the vinegar, the richness of the butter to the perfect saltiness of the Parmesan. It’s so delicious. Fresh roasted asparagus; if you haven’t tried it yet, you must! I can go on and on but I’ll stop here. This recipe is amazing and simple.

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