2 pounds asparagus
1 1/3 cups ricotta cheese
2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
½ cup minced fresh basil leaves
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
1 pound penne pasta
Bring 4 quarts of salted water to boil in a large pot for cooking pasta.
Snap off the tough ends from the asparagus spears. Cut the spears in half lengthwise, then slice them on the bias into 1-inch pieces. Steam the asparagus until just tender, about 2 minutes. Set them aside.
Combine ricotta and Parmesan cheese, basil, salt and pepper in bowl. Set aside.
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Just before the pasta is done, carefully remove 1/3 cup cooking liquid and stir into ricotta mixture. The cheese sauce should be smooth and creamy.
Drain the pasta, making sure that some water still clings to the noodles. Toss the hot pasta with the ricotta mixture and the asparagus. Mix well to coat the pasta with the sauce.