RCP: Amplifying asparagus for pasta

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RCP: Amplifying asparagus for pasta

Postby Robin Garr » Sat Mar 15, 2014 10:50 pm

I picked up a really nice looking bunch of fresh asparagus today, and it crossed my mind to use it in a pasta dinner. But how? Spring is approaching, finally - it was a beautiful day, and everyone around here is ignoring the snow in tomorrow night's forecast, so I wanted to do something to kick up and, well, amplify that springlike asparagus flavor without wasting a bit of it.

Here's the basic idea:

First, I broke off the woody ends of the stalks, but rather than discarding them, I simmered them for about 15 minutes in lightly salted water to extract their asparagus flavor. Then I lifted them out with a slotted spoon and tossed them in the compost.

Second, I cut off and reserved the tips, and cut the remaining edible stalk into short (1-inch) lenghts and simmered them gently in the broth from Step One for 5-6 minutes, just until they were crisp tender. I blended them into a puree, using just enough of the asparagus water to liquefy; to this blend I also added about 1 cup deeply browned onions plus salt and black pepper to taste. I also cooked the tips very briefly - about 2 minutes in the microwave - in a small amount of water.

Third, I used the remaining asparagus water, plus additional salted water, to cook enough spaghetti for two. While the pasta was simmering, I peeled and minced enough zest from a lemon to make about 1/2 tablespoon, and grated about 1/2 cup Grana Padano cheese.

When the spaghetti was done - still rather al dente - I drained it and mixed it in to the veggie puree, adding the reserved lemon zest and about half of the grated cheese and mixing it all together until the strands were well coated. Divided the sauces spaghetti between two warmed bowls, scattered on the remaining grated cheese, and arranged the crisp-tender asparagus spears on top.

It would have been a good match with just about any Sauvignon Blanc; it was spectacular with a dry white from the French Pyrenees, Jean-Marc LaFage 2012 "Cote Est" Cotes Catalanes Grenache-Chardonnay-Marsanne.
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Re: RCP: Amplifying asparagus for pasta

Postby Karen/NoCA » Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:54 pm

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Re: RCP: Amplifying asparagus for pasta

Postby Joe T » Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:55 pm

I'd love to try this recipe. Any suggestions for a protein pairing? How would you prepare it?
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Re: RCP: Amplifying asparagus for pasta

Postby Jeff Grossman/NYC » Wed Mar 26, 2014 2:49 am

Joe T wrote:I'd love to try this recipe. Any suggestions for a protein pairing? How would you prepare it?

I think this dish is already strongly flavored yet delicate so pairing is hard to do. A handful of toasted cashews or pine nuts would be good. If you really want meat, however, I think you need to choose one that is chewy but not too fatty, like seared scallops or, dare I say, sweetbreads sauteed crisp.
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Re: RCP: Amplifying asparagus for pasta

Postby Jenise » Wed Mar 26, 2014 3:16 am

Joe T wrote:I'd love to try this recipe. Any suggestions for a protein pairing? How would you prepare it?

Robin's gone vegetarian so he wouldn't recommend any, but I think it would be best with a lighter meat--say, a chicken schnitzel.
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