Lemony asparagus & prosciutto ricotta farfalle

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A perfect pasta dish for spring. Lemony asparagus & prosciutto ricotta farfalle by Scrummy Lane

According to this article I just read on the BBC news website, ‘There’s only one thing more British than talking about the weather. Apologising for doing it.’ That made me chuckle. It’s true that we British do talk about the weather a lot, but I reckon that’s because we have plenty to talk about.

I have often said that Britain is the opposite to Greece (where I lived for many years in case you’re new here and didn’t know that) in the weather department. No great surprises there, but what I mean is that in Greece you may wake up to a slightly or even very cloudy day, but by 10 or 11 am there is every possibility that the clouds will clear and the day will turn out beautifully after all. You have a little chat to the neighbours as you leave the house, which consists of both of you moaning a bit about the horrendous economic situation before the neighbour exclaims something like this while pointing at the sky: ‘Oh, well. Look at this beautiful weather! Greece has the most beautiful weather in the world!’ a la My Big Fat Greek Wedding (remember how the dad in this movie is constantly saying how the root of any word is Greek? Still hilarious after so many years.)

In England, on the other hand, you may wake up to a splendidly sunny day and think to yourself excitedly ‘Now how can I spend this gorgeous day?’ You decide that you’ll go for a lovely walk in the countryside followed by a picnic and bound off to get your things ready. But by the time you’ve packed your sandwiches, you’ll suddenly notice that the room has gone dark and it is in fact now raining and windy. Cancel that walk and picnic? Erm, no, actually. You damn well go on the picnic, raining or not.

I sound like a pro at this, don’t I? That’s because I am. When I was a child, we were that family, along with many others, sitting in a random countryside car park eating our ham salad sandwiches and sipping tea from a big flask with rain streaming down the windows. I think they call it British stoicism or the ‘stiff upper lip.’ 😉


You’d be forgiven for thinking that all this weather talk couldn’t possibly have anything to do with this lemony asparagus & prosciutto ricotta farfalle. Ah, but it does! Or at least you fellow food photographers will understand that it does. Because, you see, since I started this blog I’ve been in one of two places, Athens Greece or Perth Australia. The weather in both places was nearly always bright even if it wasn’t sunny, so I usually took my photographs outside in a shady but still fairly bright spot. Easy(ish). Now in England at my parents’ house, I have a whole new photo-taking routine to figure out. There are plenty of windows with all sorts of variations of light streaming through, and plenty of passing clouds to provide the shade needed for decent photos, in theory. The only problem is, the weather never stays the same from one moment to the next, which means that a particular spot stays perfect for photos for … ooh, let’s say a grand total of about ten seconds. You think I’m exaggerating, right? Wrong.

Lemon & herbs for a pasta dish

So lunchtime a couple of days ago when I made this pasta found me dashing around the different rooms of my parents’ house (and the garden) trying to find the best light for my photos as the weather chopped and changed. Not my most refined moment.

A perfect pasta dish for spring. Lemony asparagus & prosciutto ricotta farfalle by Scrummy Lane

Thankfully, the finished pasta was worth all the running backwards and forwards juggling cameras and chopping boards and pots of pasta and asparagus tips and forks. The idea for it with the lovely bow-tie pasta shapes (aka farfalle) had actually been brewing in my mind for a week or two and it was every bit as delicious as I had been hoping. There was relatively little to it, just some lightly pan-fried asparagus tossed through freshly-cooked pasta with prosciutto, ricotta cheese, lemon, parmesan and fresh basil and chives, but those beautiful flavours and textures really do marry well all together in that one dish. They are mostly delicate flavours, but then there’s the slightly salty, tangy addition of the parmesan and the prosciutto, that loveliest of Italian cured meats. As for the ricotta, I mixed most of it through the pasta pretty well, added a little reserved pasta cooking water to loosen it all up and then dotted the rest of the ricotta over the finished dish because I love eating ‘splodges’ of ricotta like this.

Lemony asparagus & prosciutto ricotta pasta by Scrummy Lane

By the time I’d finished making and photographing this dish, the sun was well and truly out and Mr. Scrummy and I were able to enjoy it in my parents’ beautiful garden with a small glass of white wine. A perfect spring lunch if ever there was.

A perfect pasta dish for spring. Lemony asparagus & prosciutto ricotta farfalle by Scrummy Lane

So I definitely had a good old chin-wag about the weather in this post, didn’t I? And I am even a bit tempted to apologise for it. That must just prove what a true Brit I still am! The truth is, though (in my opinion at least), no matter where we are from we all enjoy a good natter about the weather. So feel free to tell me in the comments section how people in your country talk about it. Go on, just for a bit of fun.

Lemony asparagus & prosciutto ricotta farfalle

Serves: serves 2 to 3

A light and fresh-tasting simple pasta dish of asparagus, prosciutto, lemon, ricotta cheese and fresh herbs. So simple to make and perfect for a sunny spring day.
  • 7 ounces/200 grams asparagus
  • zest of 1 lemon and the juice of half of it
  • ½ a cup/50 grams parmesan cheese
  • about 1½ to 2 ounces/50 grams prosciutto (cured Italian ham)
  • 7 ounces/200 grams farfalle (bow-tie) pasta
  • 3½ ounces/100 grams ricotta cheese
  • a handful each of fresh basil and chives
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • white wine to serve (optional, of course!)
  1. Put a pot of water on to boil for your pasta.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare your other ingredients (wash and chop the asparagus into 1-inch or so pieces, grate the lemon zest & parmesan, rip up the prosciutto slices into rough pieces & wash and chop the herbs).
  3. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. While it’s cooking, pan fry (in a large pan) your asparagus for 3 or 4 minutes until lightly browned and slightly tender, then turn off the heat.
  4. Drain and add the cooked pasta (reserving a little of the pasta cooking water) plus about two thirds of the ricotta cheese to the asparagus pan and stir well. Then add the lemon zest and juice, about two thirds of the parmesan, the prosciutto and most of the basil and chives and stir again. Add a little of the cooking water you reserved to make the pasta more smooth and silky, then turn on the heat again for half a minute or so, stirring, just to warm it through slightly.
  5. Serve up your pasta, then top with the rest of the parmesan and herbs and a little freshly ground black pepper. Serve with a lovely crisp glass of white wine!

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  1. says

    J’ai bien rigolée avec ton post! Je t’imaginé avec ton plat des pâtes en allant partout dans le jardin, juste pour avoir une brin de soleil! Ici, c’est un peu pareil, mon mari très moqueur il me dit à chaque fois, “je ne sais pas comme tu fais mais à chaque fois que tu fais de photos pour ton blog le temps est pourri” . Donc tout le temps, je prends mes photos dans la terrasse!
    La vérité c’est que à Bordeaux, la météo est aussi très variable surtout en printemps! Il peut faire soleil et en 5 minutes chrono, il peut vous tombé une pluie torrentiel, ils appelle ça le giboulées !
    Assez de parler de météo (aujourd’hui pleut) ton plat est divine, je crois que je veux te copier la recette !

    • says

      Je me souviens que la meteo etait un peu variable aussi a Bordeaux, Eva, mais au moins it faisait beau un peu plus souvent qu’en Angleterre. Quant aux photos, avant que j’ait commence mon blog, je n’avais aucune idee comment difficile ca serait de les prendre correctement!
      Je suis ravie que tu aimes la recette et surtout que tu as envie de le copier! :-)

  2. says

    Maybe I have some British roots because I am also pretty stubborn when it comes to planned outings. I’ll go rain or shine!

    Love this gorgeous pasta dish. Those photos make me want to dive right into the middle of the plate and eat my way out.

    • says

      So glad you like this, Joanne, especially the photos as it was touch and go at times trying to get some decent ones. Very happy about your ‘honorary British roots’, too. Yay, come and join the hard core rain or shine people!

  3. says


    I live in Buffalo where they weather may not change as dramatically as your weather from one hour to the next. In Buffalo it can change drastically from day to day. Sunshine one day and a snow blizzard the next. With all the cold and snow in Buffalo I’m always looking for a new dish to make… I mean my wife to make. I’ll pass this one on to her. I love squirting a lemon on salads, pasta, etc. This dish looks great.

    • says

      Hello, Tom! I’ve been really enjoying your family’s blog. I don’t even have a garden but somehow it’s still really interesting to read. I’m saving up tips for the future at least when I hope I will have a garden! So glad you like the look of this dish and I really hope that you have a go at making it and enjoy it. (well, your wife has a go at making it!)

  4. says

    Oh jolly ole England, how I love thee! Truly rain or shine, my obsession with all things UK never seems to waver. Your gardens and quaint English houses, ohh, sigh!

    Farfalle is my favorite pasta. And I always seem to buy asparagus and then never seem to know what I should do with it, so I just roast it in the oven. I love pasta, but I always like to add a little meat for protein and a veggie to it, so this dish is just perfect.

    And the presentation, well, I think your pictures came out perfect =) Ready to devour, even for breakfast right now! Love that fresh basil, mines not doing to good right now, too cold =(

    • says

      Laura, I can’t wait until I have a little garden, or to be honest even just a tub on a balcony or window ledge, so that I can grow at least some herbs. Basil does seem to be a tough one, though. I’ve bought little plants before and they never seem to do too well, however hard I try.
      As for England, for many years I’ve NOT wanted to live here, but I’ve come to realise that ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ really is true. I’m so glad to be back home now and enjoy those lovely gardens and houses you describe! I hope you get to visit some day (or again if you’ve been already)!

  5. says

    Ha – welcome to the challenges of photography in England, where it is dark and grey more than it’s light and cheery… Bet you miss Greece already?! Still looks like you managed to take some pretty gorgeous shots in spite of all the clouds…well done you!
    PS love that plate!

    • says

      Well, let’s just say I miss the predictability of the weather in Greece already. There are plenty of things that I don’t miss, though! Thanks for the compliments on the photos … I wasn’t sure whether I was too happy with them, really. In the end though I decided they were just about acceptable to post and hopefully I’ll get the lighting thing sorted pretty soon! As for the plate, I actually ‘stole’ it from my mum’s kitchen cupboard for this shoot. I wonder if she’ll let me keep it? 😉

    • says

      Yes, it’s a pretty short season here in the UK so you have to grab it while it lasts. Glad you like the pasta!

  6. says

    I can totally understand your lighting issue! I run back and forth from the kitchen, living room, and guest rooms! My husband just follows me from room to room until I say he can eat whatever I am photographing! Ha! This pasta looks fantastic! I cannot wait to try it!

    • says

      Really, you’re going to try it? How exciting! My husband has to put up with me bossing him around telling him to get our cutlery and drinks etc. ready while I’m finishing off my photos. One minute I’m telling him he can’t eat yet because I still need to take some pictures and then I’m saying he needs to hurry up because I’ve finished and the meal’s getting cold. Haha, poor thing!

  7. says

    Totally understand about the lighting issue, Helen. It took me a while to find the right light in my house, though I still move around sometimes depending on the weather.

    I love this kind of pasta dish. It’s easy and delicious.

    • says

      I don’t mind a bit of a learning curve, but the problem is I’m moving around so much at the moment that I’m having to constantly re-learn! Oh, well! So happy that you like the pasta!

  8. says

    I know it’s supposed to be called farfalle, but everytime I see it I think of bow ties :P! I’m sure it’s shape holds onto a lot more of that lemon flavor :)

    • says

      Actually, when I looked up the word earlier I found out it means ‘butterfly’, but I’ve always called them ‘bowties’, too. It’s funny how particular pasta shapes do seem to go with particular sauces, isn’t it?

  9. says

    I am cracking up envisioning you running around the house with a plate of pasta chasing the light! Too funny. You always have such a knack for combining crave-worthy flavors, Helen! This pasta sounds so summery.

    As for our weather talk, I’ve lived in two different climates in the US – the northeast (NJ) and the southwest (CA). The northeast had four varied seasons (from really hot to really cold) so people knew times would get “tough”. I’m still not used to the weather complaints I hear down here in San Diego, CA, where it’s warm and sunny more often than not year-round. You’ll see people in winter coats lamenting about the “cold” when it’s 60 degrees F!

    • says

      California sounds a bit like Greece, Alyssa. It does get a little cold there in the winter, but for a lot of the year it’s warm and sunny. What I find funny is when people from the UK start complaining about the ‘heat’ when it’s only about 70 degrees!
      Thanks so much for the lovely compliments – you’ve made my evening by saying that! :-)

  10. says

    I love this pasta! And I would say that the glass of wine is most definitely not optional :) Asparagus, ricotta, prosciutto, and lemon sound so delicious right now mixed into some pasta! We don’t have a lot of natural light in my house, so I take all my food photos outside. I started my blog this past winter and the weather was always really nice, but lately it is starting to get so hot outside that I always end a photo shoot covered in sweat. I hope you get used to your new lighting!

    • says

      Oh, I know the feeling, Isadora. That’s what it was like in Australia a few months ago. I was taking photos on a black tar floor just outside and it was so hot sometimes that I would burn my knees!
      So glad you like the pasta … and I agree, you really do need the wine!

  11. says

    Stiff upper lip, I love it! Sounds like you are an old pro, and adjusting well. Kudos to you Helen! I hope house hunting is going well, although I think I should be more worried about your light hunting! :) This pasta is gorgeous, light, fresh, and plain mouthwatering! Thanks for sharing, pinned!

    • says

      Thanks so much for the good wishes, Mary Frances. Actually, our house-hunting plans have been scuppered for the moment as it looks like we have to go back to Australia for a few months (can’t believe it, after that post I wrote about settling! lol!) So for the moment I’ll definitely concentrate on my light-hunting!! Glad you think the pasta is light and fresh … that’s exactly what I was aiming for!

  12. says

    Oh yes of course, you guys have very short days and that must be a real challenge with light. I know that some have experimented with light settings that simulate real light too. In any case these pics are fab!

    • says

      Thanks for saying you like the photos, Lorraine. I think there is room for improvement, but that’s OK! I think if I end up spending any considerable time here I will definitely have to get one of those artificial light set-ups, especially for the winter, like you said. At the moment it’s light until late as we’re going into summer, thankfully. :-)

  13. says

    Hi Helen, I love making Nigella Lawson’s lemony linguini, it’s a great dish. Your photos turned out really nice Helen, here in the Southwest it’s always sunny, drives me nuts sometimes.

    • says

      At least when the weather’s always the same you know where you stand, though! From a photography point of view, though. I have to admit I do enjoy the change of seasons that you get in England. Ooh, I will have to check out Nigella’s lemony linguini. I love all of her recipes!

  14. says

    So funny, reading your post all I could think was “yep, yep”! I’m Canadian and all we do is talk about the weather, and having spent a lot of time in Greece, the weather there is, well, you know how it is! It’s so difficult to take nice photos on an overcast day, it must be challenging in England!

    Anyways, sounds like a delicious recipe (I posted something somewhat similar today – pasta with asparagus!).

    • says

      Hello, Louisa! So nice to have someone pass by who knows exactly what I’m talking about – even in Greece, by the sounds of things! How long were you in Greece for and where were you? I was in Athens about half way between the city and the sea.
      I’ve only just got to England but I’m definitely finding the the photography a bit challenging – mostly because I’m still working it out, I guess. I’ll get there!
      Glad you like the recipe and going to head on over to your blog to check out yours, too!

  15. says

    Ah, the weather! I’m still adjusting here on the east coast! Changes are so fast and you can never tell how warm or cold it is just by looking through a window. I miss that. Back home, if it’s sunny it’s warm, simple as that!
    Love that pasta!! Good pics!

    • says

      I had never thought of it like that, Adriana, but it’s a little similar in Greece, too. Sunny usually equals fairly warm, but not so in the UK! Thanks so much for paying me a visit and so glad you like the pasta! :-)

  16. says

    This farfalle looks amazing, Helen! Such beautiful pictures. These are all my favorite ingredients, and I love how you made this tasty dish! I hope you are adjusting to the lighting, too!

    • says

      Thank you so much, Gayle. They are some of my favourite ingredients, too. I will get used to the lighting soon. Well, I hope so, anyway!

    • says

      That’s good … I’m glad I’m not the only one! If you lived nearby, I would gladly lend you the bowls, Erin!

  17. says

    I am so enjoying the long daylight hours and your post is reminding me how dark and horrid it is for photos in the winter. You pasta reminds me a of a lunch a friend made for me…and now I’m dying to try your yummy recipe!

    • says

      Yes, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have those long daylight hours all year round? Do try the recipe, Liz … I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

  18. says

    I loved reading every word of this! There’s nothing I like more than reading about where people live or have lived and what goes on in those countries -I find it so fascinating! Hehe I totally know what you mean about the lighting and weather! Winter and cloudy days are the worst ever for photography. Perth and Athens sound awfully nice!!! I’m jealous! I would also love a big bowl of this pasta please. PS. the photos turned out great! I love the moody lighting, it works perfectly with the dish!

    • says

      Thanks so much for the lovely comment, Allison. So glad that you enjoyed the post because I always wonder whether anyone is really interested in reading about the weather in Athens last Tuesday or what I used to like eating when I was ten!!
      I have certainly had some great times in both Athens and Perth, but am happy to be home in the UK now for a short while (a bit shorter than I would like, but never mind … )
      Thanks also for the compliments on the photos, although I was really struggling with that light. Hope you’re having a great weekend! :-)

  19. says

    Helen, I’m dealing with the same situation. The saying here in Colorado is , “if you don’t like the weather wait an hour and it will change” We go from sunny to cloudy so quick. There other day I was taking photos and had to wait in between shots for the clouds to move! Sometimes its so quick I set up, get the shot in focus and I’m ready to ‘click’ then the clouds move. Errr!
    Now, this pasta looks absolutely delicious! I have some prosciutto that I need to prepare and this looks perfect! Pinning!

    • says

      Yup, that’s what I’m dealing with! In Greece I didn’t mind if it was cloudy because it was usually still bright enough for photos in the shade, but here it seems to be so dark when the sun goes in. Grrrr!
      Glad you like the pasta, though, and hope you do give it a go! :-)

  20. says

    Hhaahha my cousins in London complain always of the weather and are surprised when I tell them I don’t walk around with an umbrella in my purse. This pasta!!! Well, it’s just the best. Love the flavors.

    • says

      I’ve been here for a couple of weeks now, Zainab, and I’ve had to carry my umbrella around for much of that time. In Greece I barely even knew where my umbrella was! Glad you approve of the pasta!

  21. says

    Thats a great looking pasta Helen! I loved talking about the weather when I lived in England :) So that’s a trait I carried back to Spain, where talking about the weather is usually limited to: it’s hot today (when it’s hot) or it’s cold today (when it’s cold). I thinking going ahead more is usually considered a sign go being “rudely polite” because you don’t know what else to talk about. That’s a classic Spanish trait I just can’t get my head around. People often think that if you’re being polite, you’re actually rude because you’re most probably being falsely polite. Crazy, huh. Maybe I should write about that in my blog… Anyway, talking about the weather, it’s horribly grey today, has rained and it’s cold. Not really great for Barcelona, right?

    • says

      Well, the great thing about bad weather days in Spain or Greece is that you know the sun won’t take too long to return. Whereas in England it could be weeks! Haha! I think you should talk about that ‘falsely polite’ Spanish thing. I for one would enjoy reading about it! :-)

  22. says

    The weather has been the main topic of conversation over here, especially as it is bank holiday weekend and yesterday it was raining cats and dogs. Today not a cloud in the sky. Although no walks or picnics can be done during bad weather we can always warm up by cooking something in the kitchen 😉

  23. says

    Haha you do sound like a pro! I visited London for the Olympics and my relatives told me we brought the sunshine! I love that place. This pasta salad so creamy and delicious…farfalle is actually one of my favourite pastas! P.S. Greece is still on my bucket list!

    • says

      Jessica, could you come back and bring your sunshine again? As for Greece, don’t take it off that list! Definitely pay a visit some time, especially to the islands.
      So glad you like the pasta!

    • says

      Ha, love it … fickle. That’s definitely a perfect description of the weather here in England. So glad you like the pasta and the photos. :-)

  24. shashi @ runninsrilankan says

    My uncle and aunt have lived in Sussex for the last 40 years and every conversation/email with them begins with talk about the weather! :)
    I think your pictures look marvelous inspite of your lighting woes and this lemony pasta with basil and chive flavorings sounds pretty delish.

    • says

      Hehe … so you know what I’m talking about then, Shashi! 😉 Thanks for the compliments on the photos. I did try very hard. I know there’s room for improvement, but that’s OK!

  25. says

    Oh here in Florida, we talk about the weather a lot too! And we have days where it can be totally nasty in the morning only to clear up and be beautiful for the rest of the day. But then we also have those days where it’s nice in the morning and then turns into an epic rain/thunderstorm that lasts for the rest of the day and even into the next!

    LOVE this pasta dish, Helen. The lemon, the asparagus, the prosciutto, it’s all great!

    • says

      This post has turned into a really good education into the weather around the world … love it!
      So glad you enjoyed the pasta, Julie. This one is definitely a keeper!

    • says

      Hi, Karen! This was the first time I’d made a pasta dish with ricotta cheese, but it certainly won’t be the last. You’re right, it makes for a very spring dish!


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