Lemon zest ties all the flavors together in this light and creamy pasta. Make it a meal: Serve with a salad of sliced fresh mozzarella and cherry tomatoes tossed with a little fresh basil, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
8 ounces whole-wheat penne pasta
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups whole milk
4 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
4 teaspoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 3 minutes less than the package directions. Add asparagus and continue cooking until the pasta and asparagus are just tender, 3 minutes more. Drain and return to the pot.
Meanwhile, whisk milk, mustard, flour, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant and lightly browned, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Whisk in the milk mixture. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tarragon, lemon zest and juice.
Stir the sauce into the pasta-asparagus mixture. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sauce is thick, creamy and coats the pasta, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan. Divide the pasta among 4 bowls and top with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.
Per serving: 359 calories; 10 g fat (4 g sat, 4 g mono); 18 mg cholesterol; 55 g carbohydrate; 18 g protein; 7 g fiber; 602 mg sodium; 467 mg potassium