Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Penne with Asparagus and Lemon Sauce
Photo courtesy of Mark Hoffman
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This is such a lovely dish. Its simplicity works well as a pasta course for more formal meals or as a light entrée for a family supper. It would also be a perfect meal for Meatless Monday. I don't much bother with asparagus once our local season is over. I've become spoiled by the taste and price of the freshly harvested crop. That, of course, means we eat a lot of asparagus in various guises at this time of year. One of the things I love about this recipe, developed by Faith Willinger for her book "Red, White and Greens: The Italian Way with Vegetables," is that no part of the asparagus is wasted. Without the help of butter or cream, the stalks become a wonderfully silken sauce that naps penne pasta in a pale green sauce that speaks of Spring. The dish takes about 30 minutes to prepare and it uses five readily available ingredients. It really gets no easier than this. The pasta should be served as soon as it is dressed and served in warmed bowls if possible. This does not hold up well. The dish tends to lose its silken texture as it sits and it becomes gummy when reheated. The recipe can be halved or doubled if need be, so it is perfect for small families or large gatherings. I know you'll love this. Here's the recipe for a wonderful Spring treat.
Penne with Asparagus and Lemon Sauce ...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite, courtesy of Faith Heller Willinger
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup extra-virigin olive oil
1 pound penne pasta
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1) Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces, keeping tips separate. Cook stems in a 6-quart pot of boiling salted water until very tender, about 6 minutes. The recommended ratio of salt to water is 1 tablespoon for every 2 quarts of water. Using a slotted spoon, transfer stems to a bowl of cold water to stop cooking and set color. Keep water in pot boiling. Drain stems well and place in a blender jar or bowl of a food processor.
2) Cook asparagus tips in same boiling water until tender, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of cold water. Let sit for a few minutes, then drain and set aside. Do not put in blender jar.
3) Add lemon zest, olive oil and 1/2 cup of asparagus cooking liquid to asparagus stems and puree. Transfer to a 4-quart saucepan. Set aside.
4) Cook penne in same pot of boiling water for three quarters of recommended cooking time. Reserve 2 cups of boiling liquid. Drain penne and add to sauce along with asparagus tips and 1/2 cup reserved cooking water. Cook over high heat, stirring to prevent sticking, for 3 minutes or until pasta is almost al dente. Add more water, a 1/4 cup at a time until sauce coats pasta but is a little loose. Stir in cheese and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir until cheese is melted. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 to 8 servings.
You might also enjoy these recipes:
Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart - One Perfect Bite
Asparagus and Lemon Grass Risotto - One Perfect Bite
Spring Vegetable Ragout - One Perfect Bite