Baby Pasta Shells with Asparagus and Marinara Sauce is a quick and easy 4-ingredient pasta dish, perfect for Spring. Ready in under 15 minutes and under ten dollars to make.
Pasta with Asparagus and Marinara Sauce
A light vegetarian pasta dish the whole family will enjoy using pantry staples like pasta and marinara. You can use any small pasta shape you wish or swap the pasta for farro.
Asparagus is in season, and I’m probably the only one in my house who truly loves it, so to get everyone else on board requires some work (or sneaking into their food). Chopping it real small and combining it with cute little pasta shells which hug each bite of asparagus works perfect in my house!
Having a toddler and a teenager in the house, I try to come up with quick and healthy, well-balanced meals everyone will enjoy because making separate dishes is not an option in my house. I always have marinara sauce on hand to use throughout the week. I make large batches of it and freeze the rest in portions in zip-lock bags. You can make a double batch of this sauce to use for other recipes throughout the week or freeze it for a later time. This recipe requires having cooked marinara sauce on hand, jarred or homemade marinara.
More Easy Pasta Recipes:
- Spaghetti with Butternut Leak Parmesan Sauce
- Spaghetti Carbonara
- Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe
- Baked Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese
- Instant Pot Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Baby Pasta Shells with Asparagus and Marinara Sauce
- 8 ouncea baby pasta shells, or small gluten free pasta
- 1 bunch thin asparagus, tough ends removed
- 1 1/2 cups quick marinara sauce, or jarred
- 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano
- salt and fresh pepper to taste
- Boil about 4 inches of water in a large pot, when boiling add asparagus and cook about 2 to 3 minutes, or until tender crisp.
- Drain and chop into small bite sized pieces.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (you can use the same pot from the asparagus not to dirty too many dishes). Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente.
- While pasta is cooking, in a medium saucepan heat 1-1/2 cups marinara sauce.
- Drain pasta and RESERVE a cup of the pasta water.
- Return pasta back to the pot and toss with marinara, asparagus, grated cheese, salt and pepper and a 1/4 cup of the pasta water or as needed to loosen the sauce.
- Divide between four bowls and top with fresh pepper and more grated cheese if desired.
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85 comments on “Baby Pasta Shells with Asparagus and Marinara Sauce”
Would this be 8oz uncooked pasta?
This sounds SO quick, easy, & super delisious. For us, I’ll use whole wheat pasta, & we here all love Baby Asparagus. One concern I have is: what would the approx. sodium content be per serving? We don’t have health issues, but try to avoid excess sodium in our diets to avoid possible future problems, & not to get our kiddoes’ palates used to liking a lot of salt. Pecorino Romano Cheese, delicious as it is, contains a lot of sodium. Can you suggest another tasty cheese, but which contains less sodium? I’d like to serve this as a side to my Greek Chicken. Thank you. 💐
Yum. Very good and easy. I added meatballs to my husband’s plate.
Really really like this recipe. After going to 3 grocery stores there were no containers of baby shells to be found. I substituted orecchiette and it was delicious. This could be a complete meal or as a side with a protein. It will definitely be a regular on our dinner list. Thank you!!!
Can this be frozen? Will the asparagus turn to mush?
So delicious and easy to make! I substituted about 2 ounces of goat cheese in place of the Parmesan because one of my family members cannot eat cow diary and oh my, that changed the sauce completely!!
I was a little skeptical about asparagus in a dish with marinara, but OH, MY GOSH!, it was excellent and easy. I made it last night and took left overs today for lunch. I’m putting this into regular rotation in the menu.
Family Loved this !! Kids and all 1
Bought the ingredients today, making it tomorrow! I love marinara sauce!
This was great! I prefer a little more protein in my dishes, but the asparagus/marinara combo was wonderful.
I cooked up some Italian sausage to slice up and up the protein. Equally delicious!
Gina, how many calories would it add if I added shrimp or chicken? Thanks!
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Hi Gina ! my husband and I had this tonight, it was amazing!
What happened to the print option?
Gina, are the recipes not print friendly anymore? I was using them for grocery list and it was so convenient to print. Now the green button is gone.
There is a black print button below the recipe.
I made only the sauce. It was yummy. I used my veggetti on zucchini instead of pasta. It was awesome!
Is the 282 calories listed under the recipe including the marinara sauce and then the 51 calories is just the marinara if you were using it for something else? Thanks!
I was wondering if your marinara sauce is canning safe?
This looks really good, though there isn't really any protein. Maybe I'll add some chicken. Oh, and I don't eat gluten and Tinkyada makes a DELICIOUS shell pasta. Doesn't taste any different from regular!
Love this recipe. So quick and easy. I just throw the asparagus in the last few minutes of the pasta cooking, and it's easy clean up. Thanks Gina!
Ooh, I love that suggestion, thanks Krista!
This is one of our favorite recipes..so simple yet super delicious..making this tomorrow night…but tonight is grilled chicken with some roasted cilantro corn
Piccolini makes baby shells in a high fiber pasta. The calorie difference is minimal though right?