Fettuccine Alfredo with Asparagus & Bacon is the perfect comfort food when you want something deeply satisfying and on the table in a pinch.
There’s just enough bacony goodness to indulge a meat craving and just enough asparagus to make you feel good about getting some greens. The addition of Pecorino Romano, lemon zest, fresh ground peppercorns and a sprinkling of Italian parsley round out the dish. The flavor of this dish is fantastic and so is the ease with which you can pull it all together. This dish is a “one pot” wonder! That’s right folks, you cook this tasty dish in one, count’em…………one pot. Yay for less dishes!
About the Ingredients
The ingredient list is simple, you probably have many of the items already. The only caveat, be sure to use high quality ingredients so your dish pops with flavor.
The pasta should be a good quality, dried variety. This recipe calls for fettuccine but you can use tagliatelle, linguine or regular spaghetti. Do not go smaller than spaghetti (no angel hair or capellini) and no larger than fettuccine (no pappardelle or shapped pasta). The ratio of pasta to other ingredients is essential in creating the perfect fork full.
I often use pork products such as pancetta, prosciutto or guanciale in my pasta dishes. However, in this dish, I think the smokey flavor of American style bacon tastes best. Another perk to using American bacon, is it’s much less expensive than it’s Italian brethren
Purchase thick cut bacon that doesn’t have heavy flavorings and has a good fat to meat ratio. You don’t want to end up with a pot full of grease and little to no bacon for the dish.
As for the asparagus, feel free to use thick or thin stalks, just make sure to use only the tender parts (usually the upper 2/3 of the stalk). As you see here, I have removed the tough parts of the stalks and cut them as uniformly as possible so that they all cook at the same rate.
Parmigiano-Reggiano might be the cheese you think of for this dish, but I prefer Pecorino Romano. Parmesan is a a cow’s milk cheese and Pecorino is a sheep’s milk cheese. Both are hard and salty but Pecorino tends to have a slightly stronger, saltier taste that really boosts the depth of flavor in this recipe. Pecorino is also quite a bit less expensive. Either cheese will work well, just be sure to get it in block form and grate the amount you need just before preparing the dish. These two cheeses can dry out quickly, take on an oily, gritty texture and degrade in flavor rapidly.
Everything else is self explanatory. Use high quality, heavy cream, unsalted butter, flavorful peppercorns like Tellicherry, fresh lemons and always use Italian parsley. We don’t want bitter, frilly, 80’s side garnish on our food, aka, curly parsley.
Thoughts on Serving
Fettuccine Alfredo with Asparagus & Bacon can be served family style or in individual bowls. I will caution you to be ready to eat immediately at the end of the cooking process. Cream based sauces tend to seize up relatively quickly as they start to cool. The sooner you serve, the better. If your sauce does begin to seize, add a little water and toss to loosen.
As with many substantial dishes, I usually serve it with a side salad of mixed baby greens, tossed in a light lemon or champagne vinaigrette. For beverages, keep it simple. A cool, crisp, more neutral wine like Pinot Grigio and a glass of sparkling or still water with lemon would be good choices.
- 1 lb Fettuccine
- 2 bunches fresh asparagus
- 1 lb thick cut bacon
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2/3 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano
- zest of two lemons
- juice of 1/2 - 1 whole lemon
- 4 tb unsalted butter, large dice
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
- pinch of sea salt (if needed)
- Kosher Salt
- Cut bacon into lardons or large dice.
- In a large pot, over medium heat, cook the bacon until the majority of the fat has rendered and the bacon is crispy.
- Turn off the heat. Remove the bacon "bits" and place on a paper towel lined plate. Set aside. Leave the bacon drippings in the pot. The drippings add flavor to the pasta as it cooks.
- In a medium bowl, combine the heavy cream, Pecorino, lemon zest, lemon juice, butter and ground black pepper. Set aside.
- Snap or cut off the tough ends of the asparagus and discard. Cut the remaining spears into 1 inch pieces. Set aside. In the large pot with bacon drippings, add water and bring to a rolling boil.
- Once the water reaches a rolling boil, add kosher salt (the water should taste salty like seawater) and fettuccine.
- Cook pasta until al'dente ( the pasta should still have bite to it, approximately 5-8 minutes) then add the asparagus and continue to cook for another 2-4 minutes. Turn the heat to low. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking liquid.
- Drain the pasta and asparagus, add them back to the cooking pot along with ingredients for the cream sauce.
- Toss to coat and continue cooking on low, until the cream sauce comes together, and begins to thicken slightly. If the sauce becomes to thick, thin it out by adding a little cooking liquid until you reach your desired consistency.
- Taste your dish and adjust the flavors, if needed. More lemon juice for acidity, more butter for silkiness, black pepper for a little bite or a pinch of salt. Keep in mind that you're going to add more cheese to the final dish which will add saltiness, so be sure not over salt your pasta.
Serve the pasta hot, in a large serving dish, family style or in individual bowls. Sprinkle the bacon "bits" over the pasta, followed by a little additional grated cheese and chopped parsley.
*If you have leftovers, they will keep in and airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days. To reheat, add a little warm water to the pasta and heat at 40 second intervals in the microwave until you reach your desired temperature. If the pasta is still to thick, add more water to loosen it.
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