Tuesday, March 29, 2005
LINGUINE WITH ASPARAGUS, LEMON, AND SPRING HERBS
I have at least four asparagus pasta recipes on file, but this is my all-time favorite. It’s a bit elaborate for every day (there are a lot ingredients and it’s tricky [for me, at least] to coordinate the steps with perfect timing), but all the elements come together so elegantly and tastily—and with the bright flavors and the greenness, it’s a perfect way to celebrate the approach of spring. Put out a vase of daffodils and a bowl of pastel-wrapped chocolate eggs and big heaping bowls of lemony-herby asparagus pasta, and you may have my ideal Easter meal.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 large bunch scallions, including half the greens, thinly sliced
2½ teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
salt and pepper to taste
2 pounds asparagus
1 pound linguine
4 tablespoons pine nuts
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons snipped chives, plus blossoms if available
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Heat the pine nuts in a large, wide skillet over medium heat until lightly browned, shaking the pan occasionally to make sure they toast evenly. Pour them out of the skillet into a bowl and set them aside, but return the skillet to the stove for use in Step 3.
2. Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil. While it heats, wash the asparagus, snap off the tough ends and discard them, slice off the asparagus tips, and then slice the stalks into 1-to-2-inch lengths. When the water boils, add the asparagus and cook until partially tender, 3-4 minutes. Scoop it out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon and set it in a colander to drain. Add the linguine to the boiling water and cook until al dente.
3. Heat the skillet over low heat, add the butter and 1 tablespoon of the oil, and wait for them to melt/warm up. Add the scallions, lemon zest, thyme, and a few pinches of salt and cook slowly, stirring occasionally.
4. When the pasta is almost done cooking, add the asparagus to the skillet and stir to coat it with the butter/oil and seasonings. When the pasta is done, drain it, add it to the skillet, and stir in the remaining tablespoon of oil, the toasted pine nuts, the parsley, the chives, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss everything together well, dish it up, and sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese.
Time: 45 minutes