Roasted Asparagus Balsamic Butter Penne

I live a charmed life. I am surrounded by amazing people. My family is awesome, we all know it. But also, guys, my church. Hundreds of people just trying to follow Jesus. I got to see a few in action today.

It was over eighty degrees here, which, in the Pacific Northwest, we like to call “Too Hot.” It also happened to be the day of our annual church picnic. Yeah, I don’t want to steal anyone’s treasure in heaven, but, wow, Blue Sky Church has some true saints.

Saints who know how to eat, and eat well. The BBQ pork at Blue Sky anniversary party is always the best I’ve ever had. And I’ve had a lot of meat.

Because meat is a staple of MacLaren meals. We rarely eat a meal without meat. That’s how you know that this meal is such a gem. We don’t even miss the meat.

For the record, roasted > steamed asparagus, and, pro tip: For roasting, the thicker spears work best, the thin ones can turn out stringy and tough. (But if you do happen to steam some asparagus, or add them to a stir-fry, that’s where the thin ones really shine.)

And I’m not a vinegar girl. I don’t just go pouring vinegar on my salad like it’s an actual dressing. Balsamic vinegar makes me want to sneeze, but when it’s reduced it gets sweet and subtle and entirely fabulous.

And the other ingredients? Well, there’s not really anything to discuss. Pasta? Yum. Butter? Ha, duh. Parmesan? Can’t get enough.

Roasted Asparagus Balsamic Butter Penne

Serves: 6 (or how ever much a pound of pasta would normally serve. A pound of pasta serves my family of two adults and one toddler 3 times, so that’s 9 servings for my family. This is why I don’t usually include servings on my recipes. I mean. Are you a 3 year old girl or a 15 year old boy? Did you have a big lunch? Is it super hot outside? I can’t really tell you how many servings there are. But, yeah. 6 is my best guess.)


1 Pound of Penne Pasta

1 Pound of Asparagus, Woody Ends Snapped Off

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

2 Teaspoons of Salt, Divided

1 Teaspoon of Pepper, Divided

1/2 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar

1/2 Teaspoon of Brown Sugar

1/2 Cup of Butter, Sliced into Pieces

1/3 of Grated Parmesan Cheese, Fresh (if you have it) & more for serving


Put a pot of water for the pasta on the stove to boil.

Preheat the oven to 400 Degrees.

Snap the woody ends off the asparagus, then toss with olive oil and a half teaspoon of both salt and pepper.

Roast asparagus on a baking sheet for ten minutes.

Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water.

Start to reduce the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer the vinegar over medium heat until thickened and reduced to about three tablespoons (see picture below).

Add the remaining salt and pepper, brown sugar and butter to the balsamic reduction.

Stir together the drained pasta, asparagus and and balsamic reduction.

Mix in the Parmesan cheese.

Serve with additional Parmesan.

Thickened Balsamic VinegarIf you have leftovers, heat in the microwave with a sprinkle of water and a small nub of butter, then top with extra Parmesan. Always more Parmesan.

This recipe comes from Food and Wine, and has been tested in my house many times.


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