Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Easy like Wednesday evening

During the week, I’m all about simplicity, i.e., any half-decent looking dish with only five ingredients is worth trying. I adapted this one from a Sara Moulton (Food Network) recipe, which I liked, but found a little bland and more tedious than necessary.
The episode showcasing this recipe was a five-ingredient theme, and I strongly suspect garlic was cut from the roster to meet the ingredient cap. It definitely needs that key sixth ingredient, though. And it screams for more cheese. A lot more cheese. In fact, let's get crazy and double the cheese! And while we're at it, we'll zest and juice the whole lemon. Lemon shouldn't be allowed in the title unless you can taste it!

In late April of this year, I couldn’t find any asparagus in the local stores due to a cold snap that ruined a lot of Washington’s spring harvest. I did, however, find a bag of frozen spears at Fred Meyer and gave the recipe a go with those — they worked perfectly! Nice discovery and good to know it’s possible to get some [relatively] fresh flavor during the upcoming winter when I grow tired (and a bit crazy) of squash and root vegetables.

Pasta with asparagus-lemon sauce
1 pound fresh, medium thickness asparagus, tough ends trimmed
Zest and juice of one large lemon
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound penne, malfade, or preferred shape
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces; reserve tips separately. Cook asparagus stems in 5 to 6 quarts boiling water with 2 tablespoons salt until very tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a colander, reserving cooking water in pot, and rinse under cold water. Drain asparagus well and transfer to a food processor or blender.

Cook asparagus tips in same boiling water until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer with slotted spoon to colander, reserving boiling water in pot, and rinse under cold water. Drain tips well and set aside.

Cook pasta in boiling asparagus cooking water for about three-fourths of the recommended cooking time (very al dente). Reserve 2 cups cooking water and drain pasta.

Puree asparagus stems with zest, lemon juice, garlic cloves, olive oil, and 2 cups asparagus cooking water. Sauce will be very thin. Transfer sauce to a 4-quart saucepan and set aside.

Add pasta and asparagus tips to the asparagus sauce and cook over high heat, stirring, 3 to 5 minutes, or until pasta is almost al dente and sauce coats pasta but is a little loose (the cheese will thicken it slightly).

Stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano and salt and pepper, to taste and cook, stirring, until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.


Missy said...

OH. YUM! I guess I might be able to branch out from my 5-ingredient rule to try this someday. Looks delicious! You're blog always makes me hungry.

jb said...

I was going to try this tonight until I saw that you had to puree things. I don't own a food processor. :(

Hillary said...

Joy, do you have a blender? That's what I use for this recipe.

Emily said...

Mmmmm, I love pasta, sparkle tips, cheese and garlic.