When a new season is upon us, those aligned in the Italian tradition of cooking tend to whip up a plate of pasta con asparagi, a traditional dish that is made all the more impressive by its simplicity in preparation, flavor, and intoxication of both flavor and aroma, and thanks to this delicious recipe from the Food 52 recipe blog, you can enjoy a bowl yourself.
Ingredients for Pasta Con Asparagi:
- 1 ½ pound of fresh asparagus
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- A pinch of salt
- A pinch of freshly ground pepper
- 2 ½ tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 cups of canned Italian plum tomatoes (grated coarsely or put through a sieve)
- 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley (finely chopped)
- 1 tablespoon of fresh basil (finely chopped)
- ¾ pounds of penne, rigatoni, or other “tubular” pasta
- 2 eggs plus one additional yolk, (beaten)
- ½ cup of parmesan (freshly grated)
Directions for Pasta Con Asparagi
- In order to properly start this recipe, you should prepare all ingredients ahead of time and have them laid out, ready to cook, as this recipe requires somewhat meticulous timing. Have your herbs finely chopped, cheese grated, and eggs beaten with a fork; that way you’re setting yourself up for success. Once this is done, bring approximately 3 quarts of water to a hardy boil for the pasta.
- Next, put your asparagus into lengthy strips of about 2 inches long. If your stalks are particularly thick, you can cut them in half or quarters, though you should keep the tips intact.
- Heat your butter in a large, deep skillet that’s been placed on medium heat, and then add in your asparagus pieces. Season the asparagus with salt and pepper, and cook them for 4-5 minutes or until they are crisp-tender and lightly browned. Once cooked, transfer them to a plate, and reserve them for later. Consider placing a container top over the plate to trap some heat with the vegetables.
- In the same pan, add your olive oil and garlic cloves. Cook until the full cloves are lightly-browned and then remove and discard the garlic.
- Next, add the tomatoes, parsley, and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and then cook the tomatoes and herbs for about 10 minutes while stirring throughout.
- Add your pasta and a pinch of salt to the boiling pot of water and cook for about 7 minutes when it returns to a boil after adding the pasta. Keep a watchful eye on the pasta and remove the pot from the burner once the pasta is tender, so as to not overcook this staple of the meal.
- Just before your pasta is done cooking, turn off the heat under the skillet with the tomatoes, and add your beaten eggs. Stir them vigorously to blend them while keeping them from curdling. Continue to keep a watchful eye, and do your best to not boil the sauce after the eggs are added. If you’re nervous about curdling the eggs at this stage, you can instead temper them by stirring a ladle of the hot tomato sauce into the eggs and then whisking the mixture back into the pan.
- At this point you can add your asparagus to the tomato sauce, stirring the pieces in the sauce to blend them together.
- Once cooked, drain the pasta immediately, add the tomato sauce and asparagus, and toss it all with half of your cheese. Serve a helping on a plate while it’s hot and with the remaining cheese on the side. Enjoy!
This Food 52 recipe is a slight adaptation from the acclaimed restaurant critic and food journalist Craig Claiborne. Originally appearing in his The New New York Times Cookbook (1979), this harmonious recipe combines the best elements of the more celebrated pasta sauces, most notably asparagus, carbonara, and tomato.
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