Oh grad school. Someday you will stop getting in the way of my blog posts! I know I go months without posting. I feel ashamed. But my grades are good, at least. :) Anyway….
One of my favorite easy and cheap spring meals is asparagus, cut up into small rounds, sauteed with garlic, butter, salt & pepper. I could eat a giant bowl of that by itself. However, it’s also fantastic in pasta, with or without a cream sauce. I shamelessly often omit the flower end of the asparagus and just eat the stalk because that’s what I like best. Here’s a simple rendition. If you use a bunch of asparagus, cook 2 cups of dry pasta, maybe a little less. That would probably feed three. Otherwise, just wing it. Err on the side of more asparagus. This recipe is forgiving, so don’t get caught up in the proportions. If it seems a bit dry, add extra butter…simple as that.
Tonight’s dinner: Conchiglie with Sauteed Asparagus and Basil in Garlic Butter.
This is sort of an organic recipe…more like guidance than a recipe. This is an easy to make meal, so just adjust it to your tastes. The combination of flavors is what is important, not the proportions, but don’t overcook things!
- Rinse the asparagus. Cut asparagus into small rounds about 1/4″ or smaller wide. Just slice it perpendicular to the stalk of the asparagus so that it becomes tiny coins. Discard the tough ends where it becomes harder to cut through the stalk (often, the whiter/purpler parts are the toughest unless you’re using white asparagus). You can also discard the flower end if you’re picky about that like me (but if you’re not, don’t waste just for the sake of this recipe!). Mince garlic I prefer lots. I’d use at least 4 cloves to a bunch of asparagus. Chiffonade (or just chop up fairly finely) at least 6 basil leaves (but, you can omit these if you don’t have them…it will still be delicious.)
- Cook pasta until al dente (the package probably has directions, if not…the internet does)…you want it not soft, just a little chewy…but not to where it tastes undercooked. Shells, rotini, bowtie, or penne will work best (I’ve used conchiglie here, which is a medium sized, thick shell type.). Drain and rinse pasta. Let it dry in a strainer while you do the next part.
- Sautee all of the other ingredients (asparagus, garlic, basil…you can add peas if you really want more veg for some reason.) in a hearty amount of butter (but an obscene amount) over medium to medium low heat. I’d use a tablespoon at *least* for a bunch of asparagus. Add fresh ground black pepper and salt while sauteeing. Sautee just until the asparagus begins to yield a bit to your teeth and tastes sweeter. It should still be green colored. Taste it frequently to get it to your level of doneness, but do not cook it until it’s olive colored or I will cry!
- Add the pasta to the sauteed veggies and mix well until the butter coats the pasta. Dump onto plates.
- Top with fresh grated parmesan and serve with a glass of a nicely oaked wine (red or white, your choice). You’ll thank me.
The sauteed asparagus mixture is also fantastic in omelettes or under a poached egg with some crusty bread if you’re feeling breakfasty. You can add or omit the Parmesan in that case as you’d like.
You only have a bit longer to try this…Asparagus season is almost gone! Happy Spring, everyone!