A creamy summer pasta dish with spiced roasted asparagus and sweet cherry tomatoes. The flavors and textures in this recipe make it an extra satisfying meatless dinner packed with fresh produce!

Introducing my perfect summer pasta

We have a creamy base sauce, we have roasted cherry tomatoes and we have smoky roasted asparagus all coming together with some al dente rigatoni for a seriously epic mix of flavor and texture.

The ingredients are peak summery, but it’s definitely leaning towards comfort food / cooler evening vibes. Especially with the addition of some spices to the asparagus (would you be shocked if I had you crushing some fennel seeds tonight?) which give it a little umami boost that I think is always welcome in veg-centered meals.

Logistically, I can not lie, this one goes a little against my usual style where I try my absolute best to condense the number of pans and create relaxed workflows. With this recipe we have two pans in the oven and two pans on the stove, all cooking at the same time, so it is important to read the recipe straight through a couple of times and get your head around what you’re trying to achieve.

The reason it turned out this way? I just felt like it thrived best when all of the elements were just so, and any shortcuts I tried seemed to take the shine off. I promise that if you make it a few times it starts to really click into place, getting on the table in not much more than 30 minutes.

Ingredient Notes & Substitutions

  • The quantities of asparagus and cherry tomatoes in the dish are fairly loose – a little more or less of each is fine.
  • The smoked paprika and fennel seeds add lots of umami flavor to the roasted asparagus and is what gives this recipe a little something special. If you don’t want to use them that’s fine, the recipe will still be delish. You could also use another type of seasoning of your choice.
  • The white wine adds lots of flavor to the creamy sauce but can be swapped for vegetable broth if you need to.
  • Rigatoni is my favorite pasta shape for this one, but penne or fusilli will do nicely too.

Top Tips: How to make sure this comes together as smoothly as possible

  • I know this is considered a best practise for cooking from recipes anyway, but in this case it is especially important to read the recipe all the way through before you start cooking! Since we’re balancing two pans in the oven with two pans on the stove, there’s a lot of things happening at the same time and you want to have a good sense of what we’re working towards.
  • If you have some extra time and want to cut down on the multitasking, just make the sauce first, before you start doing anything else. It doesn’t matter if that sits out for a while.
  • If you really want to cut down on one pan, you can skip roasting the cherry tomatoes and cook them in the sauce instead. Add them alongside the tomato paste in Step 4, before adding the white wine. It wasn’t my favorite way to do this but it’s still pretty tasty!

Roasted Asparagus and Cherry Tomato Pasta

A creamy summer pasta dish with spiced roasted asparagus and sweet cherry tomatoes. The flavors and textures in this recipe make it an extra satisfying meatless dinner packed with fresh produce!
5 from 1 rating


  • olive oil
  • 11 oz (310 g) rigatoni, penne or fusilli
  • 2 cups (300 g) cherry tomatoes , halved
  • 1 lb (450 g) asparagus
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ lemon, for juicing and zesting
  • ½ red onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2-3 pinches chili or red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) white wine
  • ½ cup (50 g) parmesan or another Italian hard cheese
  • ½ cup (120 ml) heavy (double) cream


  • Preheat the oven to 200c / 400F. While the oven preheats, prep all your sauce ingredients and measure out your pasta. Once things get going with this recipe, there isn't a lot of spare time so having this all done upfront will help.
  • Get the tomatoes roasting first. Scatter them in a baking dish, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in the lower middle shelf in the oven.
  • Prep the aspargaus. Trim off the woody ends and slice into 3-4 pieces per stalk. Toss with oil, season with salt and pepper and place in the oven for 15-20mins (the lower end for finer asparagus and the higher end for thicker stems). Since the cherry tomatoes have had a little head start, the timings should align for them being ready at the same time.
  • While the asparagus and tomatoes roast, prepare the sauce. Over a low-medium heat, saute the onions until soft, and then add the garlic, Italian seasoning and chili flakes. Saute for a few more moments until fragrant. Add the tomato paste, mix through and add the wine. Allow the wine to bubble over a low heat for a few minutes until the harsh alcohol scent mellows out.
  • While the sauce cooks down, set the pasta boiling according to package instructions.
  • Return to the sauce. Add the cream and cheese to the sauce, season with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside, off the heat.
  • Check in on the asparagus. Once it's starting to brown around the edges, take it out of the oven and add the fennel seeds, smoked paprika and a few grates of lemon zest. Place back in the oven for another 2-3 minutes.
  • By now the tomatoes should be burst, reduced in size and jammy. Remove from the oven and pour into the pan with the sauce – make sure to pour all the tasty oils and juices in too!
  • Once the pasta is ready, drain it but reserve a cupful of the cooking water. Add it to the sauce, then add the asparagus.
    It is likely that the timelines won't work out perfectly here – don't worry. If the asparagus is done too early, let it sit in at the bottom of the oven (with the heat turned off) until the pasta cooks. If the pasta is ready before the asparagus, toss it with the sauce and just make sure to keep the pasta cooking water to hand to thin it back out if it thickens too much while waiting around.
  • Toss it all together and add a little pasta cooking water to thin out the sauce as needed.
  • Serve immediately with additional cheese for topping and a squeeze of lemon if desired.