Creamy Spaghettini with Leeks, Peas and Asparagus

This lightly creamy vegetable pasta combines leeks, peas and asparagus with cream and flavorful herbs for a delicious spring meal.

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Creamy vegetable pasta in a white bowl with other bowls behind it.

Easy Creamy Vegetable Pasta

Here’s a pasta perfect for spring, when all the green vegetables start to show up and are at their best. It’s a creamy vegetable pasta that is light on the cream (unless you want to go heavier – you’re the boss), with just enough cream to bring all the ingredients together and coat the pasta. It takes no time to make and with the tangy lemon zest and salty Parmesan cheese, it’s super satisfying.

Leeks cooking in a sauté pan with a jar of tarragon and some salt near by.

How to Clean and Cut Leeks

Leeks are my favorite of the onion family. Their flavor is less pungent than their onion cousins and has a fresh green note. Since they grow out of sandy soil, however, a lot of dirt can get trapped in between their leaves, so cleaning them beforehand is a must. You can learn all about how to clean and cut leeks in my little cooking lesson here

A hammered stainless steel saute pan with a wooden spoon sticking out of it and peas, asparagus, leeks and cream inside.

When to Add Peas to Creamy Vegetable Pasta

When to add the peas to this pasta depends on what peas you are adding. If you are lucky enough to find fresh peas, you need them to cook a little longer than frozen peas. Pop fresh peas into the pan with the asparagus to sauté and then simmer them in the cream sauce as directed. If you are using frozen peas, drop them into the pasta water just before you’re ready to drain the pasta. They just need to be heated through and this way they will keep their bright green color.

Looking down into a saute pan with creamy vegetable pasta inside.

Hang on to that Pasta Water

Always… ALWAYS reserve a cup of pasta water, and not just for this recipe, but whenever you are cooking pasta. Extra reserved pasta water is so important to make your pasta sauce the right consistency for you. Once your hot pasta is in the pan with your pasta sauce, it will continue to cook and that means it will continue to absorb liquid. As a result, it dimishes the amount of sauce you have. So, use a little pasta water to thin the sauce as the pasta continues to absorb it. The pasta water is hot so it won’t cool your pasta down and it is a little starchy, which is helpful if you want to keep a slightly thicker consistency to your sauce.

Hands zesting lemon into a creamy vegetable pasta in a sauté pan.

A Burst of Lemon

Lemon is magic. Just a little lemon juice and zest can make a world of difference to any recipe. But, as with many flavors, lemon will dimish with heat and time. So, add the lemon at the end of cooking so that it’s bright and fresh.

Two portions of creamy vegetable pasta in white bowls with some parmesan cheese near by.

Other Pasta Recipes You Might Enjoy

If you like this lightly creamy pasta, you might like these other pasta recipes too:

A fork holding some pasta up over a bowl.

Featured Recipe Techniques

More about the skills used in this recipe.

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How to Cook Pasta

Cooking pasta is something that pretty much everyone knows how to cook - boil water, add pasta. However, there are...View Technique

How to Cut a Leek

Leeks are the most mysterious member of the allium or onion family. Their flavor, however is so lovely that it's...View Technique

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Creamy Spaghettini with Leek, Peas, and Asparagus

  • Prep Time: 10 m
  • Cook Time: 10 m
  • Total Time: 20 m
  • Servings:


  • 12 ounces spaghettini or thin spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sliced leek sliced ¼-inch thick (about 1 -2 leeks)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • teaspoons dried tarragon
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cup fresh peas or frozen
  • ¾ cup sliced asparagus ½-inch slices – about ½ bunch
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ lemon zest and juice
  • Grated Parmesan cheese for serving


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente, as directed on the package.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, pre-heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and gently cook leek for about 4 to 5 minutes, until soft but not brown. Season with salt, pepper and the dried tarragon.
  3. Stir in the peas (if you are using fresh peas; if you are using frozen peas, you can add them to the pasta water just before draining) and asparagus and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.

  4. Add the heavy cream to the pan, bring to a simmer and then turn off the heat.
  5. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and then drain the cooked pasta. Add the pasta to the skillet with the vegetables. Add the parsley, lemon juice and zest and loosen the pasta if desired with some of the reserved pasta water. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  6. Serve in pasta bowls. Sprinkle with more fresh parsley, more lemon zest and Parmesan cheese on top.
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