Serving
(click to enlarge)

Pasta with Asparagus & Cheese
Italy

Serves:
Effort:
Sched:
DoAhead:  
4 pasta  
easy
3/4 hr.  
Most
Pasta and asparagus with a light coating of tasty cheese. Great as a pasta course, this recipe is also excellent as a light main dish. It's easy to make and most of the work can be done well ahead.


1
1/3
8
1/4
1/4
2
tt
1/2
tad
#
c
oz
t
c
T

#
Asparagus (1)
Parmesan fresh grated
Mascarpone (2)
Pepper
Hazelnuts
Chives chopped
Parmesan shavings
Pasta (3)
Olive Oil
Prep
  1. Snap tough base ends off from Asparagus. Cut each into three sections, keeping the sections separate. First cut 2 inches of the tip, then the next two inches. Finally another 2 inches. You may have some random end pieces left over - combine them with the third section.
  2. Bring plenty of Water to a rapid boil over high heat. Put the Asparagus base group into the water and cook for 1-1/2 minutes. Then put in the center group and cook another 1 minute. Finally put in the tips and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes depending on thickness. Drain, refresh in cold water, drain again and hold until needed.
  3. Grate PARMESAN very fine and mix thoroughly with MASCARPONE and Pepper.
  4. Check HAZLENUTS for rancidity. Roast them (if not already roasted) and crush coarsely, chop CHIVES medium, shave PARMESAN (use a vegetable peeler) and cut shavings diagonally if large. Mix all for use as a topping.
Run
  1. Set out your strainer for the pasta. Place a heat proof cup under the strainer so you won't forget to reserve some pasta water.
  2. Bring plenty of salted water to a boil and cook your Pasta the usual way until just "al dente".
  3. Stir in the Asparagus just long enough to warm it up well, then pour the pasta into the strainer, catching at least 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
  4. Return Pasta to the pot and stir in just a tad of Olive Oil to keep it from sticking. Stir in the Cheese mix and just enough of the reserved pasta water to make it of a sauce consistency.
  5. Portion pasta out onto individual plates and garnish with a dollop of the Hazelnut topping.
NOTES:
  1. Asparagus:   Medium size asparagus around 1/2 inch diameter at the bottom is good for this recipe, but other sizes can be used. If it is much larger you'll probably have to use a vegetable peeler on the bottom half. For details see our Asparagus page.
  2. Mascarpone:   This is a light Italian cream cheese. Other light cream cheeses can be substituted.
  3. Pasta:   The photo example uses Farfalla, the "bow-tie" pasta, which is ideal for this recipe. If you substitute, use a similarly simple pasta that won't grab too much of the cheese sauce.
  4. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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