Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Another step in my continuing quest to collect a pasta recipe for every possible vegetable combination. Sure, I have many asparagus pasta recipes already, but this is the only one with tomatoes. This is how you end up with a pasta archive so massive you could eat a different pasta dish every week for a year.

Actually, this recipe is another oldie from Jack Bishop's Pasta e Verdura that I've been making for many years, but not often enough lately to get it onto the blog. There are certainly no surprises here, just spaghetti, steamed asparagus, tomatoes, pine nuts, basil, and Parmesan in a lightly creamy sauce. But it is extremely delicious. The prep work seems a little fussy, but once you've toasted your pine nuts, steamed your asparagus, and chopped your tomatoes, everything flies together quite quickly with a minimum of cooking.

Did you notice that this is my third new asparagus recipe in the past month? I've been on a kick, cooking asparagus once a week, sometimes twice! If you're not a fan, don't worry; the season is nearly over here in SoCal, so my mania will be subsiding soon.

1½ pounds asparagus
1½ pounds plum tomatoes
¼ cup pine nuts
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup minced fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 pound spaghetti
⅔ cup freshly grated Parmesan

1. Set a large skillet over medium heat, add the pine nuts, and toast—shaking the pan occasionally—until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove pine nuts from pan and set aside.

2. Snap the tough ends off the asparagus, cut spears in half lengthwise, then slice into 1-inch pieces. Steam until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

3. Core and seed the tomatoes and then chop them into ½-inch chunks and set aside.

4. Bring 4 quarts salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente.

5. Meanwhile, in the same skillet you used for the pine nuts, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until lightly colored, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Cook until tomatoes are just heated through, 2–3 minutes.

6. Stir the basil and cream into the pan and cook until cream has thickened and reduced a bit, about 1 minute. Stir in the asparagus and mix well. Cook until heated through, 1–2 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper.

7. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce, the toasted pine nuts, and the Parmesan. Mix well and serve with more cheese if desired.

Serves: 6
Time: 40 minutes
Leftover potential: High

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