2016-04-15 / Columns

Cooking on Purpose

Springing into asparagus is scrumptious
By Connie Wendell Special to the Post

Spring has so many wonderful things coming to life, it really is a joy to see. One of my favorites is spring asparagus. My family loves it so I try to dream up different recipes to try. Although simply steamed asparagus is still an all-time favorite.

Tomato and asparagus carbonara

3 quarts of water; 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil; 1 pound (1-inch diagonally cut trimmed asparagus; 3 cloves garlic, minced; 1-pint cherry tomatoes, halved; 2 ounces of pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated (about ½ cup); ½ teaspoon kosher salt; ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; 1 large egg; 8 ounces uncooked penne pasta; and ¼ cup fresh basil leaves.

Bring 3 quarts water to boil in a Dutch oven. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to the pan; swirl to coat. Add asparagus; sauté 3½ minutes. Add garlic; sauté for 1 minute. Add tomatoes; cook for 6 minutes or until tomatoes are tender.

Combine cheese, salt, pepper and egg in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Add pasta to boiling water; cook for 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and toss pasta immediately with egg mixture.

Add tomato mixture, tossing until sauce thickens. Divide pasta equally among four bowls. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon basil. Serve immediately.

Serves four.

Asparagus with lemon and pecorino

1 pound trimmed asparagus; 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil; 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind; ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; 1/8 teaspoon salt; and 1 ounce shaved pecorino Romano cheese.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add asparagus; cook for 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add asparagus; cook 1 minute. Sprinkle evenly with lemon rind, pepper and salt; toss to coat. Sprinkle asparagus with pecorino Romano cheese.

Serves four.

Black pepper pasta salad with prosciutto, asparagus and Romano

8 ounces uncooked cavatappi pasta; 3 cups (1 ½-inch) sliced asparagus (about 1 pound); 1 teaspoon olive oil; 2 ounces of prosciutto, chopped; ½ cup thinly sliced shallots; 6 tablespoon light mayonnaise; 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind; 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon; 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice; 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; dash of salt; 1 cup diced tomato; and 1½ ounces pecorino Romano cheese, grated (about 1/3 cup packed).

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Add asparagus during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain and rinse under cold water; drain.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add prosciutto and cook for 6 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally.

Remove prosciutto from pan using a slotted spoon, leaving drippings in pan.

Drain prosciutto on paper towels. Add the shallots to drippings in pan; cook over medium heat for 1 minutes or until shallots are tender, stirring frequently.

Combine mayonnaise, lemon rind tarragon, juice, pepper and salt in a large bowl; stir well.

Add pasta, asparagus, three-fourths prosciutto, shallots tomato and cheese; toss well to coat. Top servings evenly with remaining prosciutto.

Serves eight.

Enjoy spring. Enjoy delicious asparagus. Until next time, keep Cooking on Purpose.

Connie Wendell can be reached at conniewendell27@gmail.com.

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