A Squared: What's For Dinner Wednesday: Easy Lemon Penne with Asparagus & Chicken

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Easy Lemon Penne with Asparagus & Chicken

First things first: Let me apologize for the photos in today's post.

The truth is that I was not planning to post this recipe for you. I had made a huge batch of this slow cooker Italian lemon chicken (and by the way, it's REALLY good so you should try it too) and I had a ton left over. It was a busy weeknight and got home late and made a dinner out of that leftover chicken and whatever else I had in my kitchen. As it turned out, it was really tasty and I snapped an Instagram pic of it and a few of you commented that you'd like the recipe... well, here you go!

This dinner is super easy and if you've got prepared chicken, then it is also a one pot meal. It doesn't get simpler than that! The pasta and asparagus cook together and are simply flavored with olive oil, thyme, Parmesan, and some fresh lemon. The reserved pasta water brings it all together and the shredded chicken adds some bulk to the dish and makes it really satisfying. And if you use whole grain pasta like I did, this is also a light and healthy pasta dish that's perfect for dinner or for packing in your lunchbox too!

You could make a few simple subs here too, if you'd like. Broccoli or green beans could easily be subbed for the asparagus. You could also make this a meatless dinner and use some cubed mozzarella or toasted pine nuts instead of the shredded chicken. Or sub in some cooked shrimp or salmon for the chicken for a delicious seafood pasta dish.

This dish is proof that an elegant, delicious, and healthy dinner doesn't need to take tons of time or be super complicated to pull together. Give it a try and let me know what you think-- and tag #aasquaredblog if you post a pic too!


  • 6 oz. uncooked whole grain penne
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil *I used a lemon-infused olive oil. If you do the same, you can omit the next two ingredients
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon zest
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken *You could use a storebought rotisserie chicken or this Italian Lemon slow cooker chicken recipe that I used

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. With 3 minutes left in the pasta cook time, add the asparagus to the pot and continue to cook. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking liquid and then drain the pasta and asparagus.

Add the pasta and asparagus back to the pout. Pour in the reserved pasta water and add olive oil, lemon zest, juice, thyme leaves, Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper. Toss the mixture to coat the pasta and until all ingredients are incorporated. Add chicken and stir to combine.
Serve warm with additional grated Parmesan.

A Squared


  1. sounds so good! i need to eat more asparagus! xo jillian - cornflake dreams

    1. Asparagus is so good in the spring/summer too, so this will be a great recipe for the next couple of months!

  2. Pasta with a generous helping of cheese! Yes please!!!

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