Delectable Recipes on the Fly: Chicken and Lemon Asparagus Penne


Living in Queens involves more than just a change in zip code and perfecting a Fran Drescher accent. There are many things that become a facet of everyday life in the five boroughs that just don’t exist in any other metropolitan city. Grabbing a coffee from a street vendor as soon as you come out of the subway; giving your cabby directions because he just got off the boat and hasn’t bought a GPS yet; and pronouncing that delicious street fare as “gy-roh” instead of “year-oh” so that you don’t get stared at. I must admit that I am now quite a pro at these and other New York Moments. Unfortunately, I can not consider myself a true New Yorker just yet seeing as I have twenty-years to make up for lost time. Yet, I am proud to say that this week I can add one more to my belt – buying fruits and vegetables from a street vendor.

I must admit that the first time I saw these stands, I was skeptical of the quality and immediately assumed that the prices had to be exorbitant. I mean, logic states that these guys would have to overcharge their oranges and tomatoes in order to compensate for their lack of volume in comparison to large conglomerate grocery stores. But one rushed morning on my way to work had me desperately looking for some breakfast that wasn’t going to cost me $15 (I work at 59th and Madison…not the cheapest area of Manhattan). The little cardboard signs caught my eye – “Strawberries 2 for $3”. Those strawberries completely corrected my misinformed opinion of these entrepreneurial street peddlers.

Thanks to not having the time to get in my car and drive to the grocery store the last week, I have had a sad inventory of anything not pre-packaged. I solved that problem quickly by paying a visit to my local produce stand three times in the last week; 4 oranges and a bag of onions on my way to work one day, a package of English cucumbers and a pound of asparagus as I got off the train and was starting to think about dinner. So, in a New York Minute these street vendors had provided me with a delicious meal tonight and nutritious dishes for the week to come. After twenty-nine minutes of prep and taking a bite of this light and citrusy pasta tonight, I felt just like The Nanny – “still diggin it”!


  • 1 (16 oz) package whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • freshly cracked pepper to taste


  1. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Stir in penne and return to a boil. Cook pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes. Penne will still be lightly firm.
  2. Stir asparagus into the pot with the boiling penne pasta and bring back to a boil; cook until pasta is tender and asparagus is softened but still bright green, about 3 more minutes. Drain pasta and asparagus.
  3. Place penne and asparagus back in the pot; lightly stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, Parmesan, olive oil, salt and pepper until thoroughly combined.
  4. Serve immediately or at room temperature with grilled chicken breast.

Yields: 8 servings

Nutrition Information: (per serving)

377 calories, 17.8g fat, 4.5g fiber, 45.0g carbohydrates, and 12.7g protein.


4 responses »

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