May 20, 2013

Penne with asparagus

I don't have asparagieria, a long-lean pot for cooking asparagus. The point of using such a pot is to have asparagus standing, so that the tougher, lower part of the vegetable cooks in water while the tender, top part cooks in vapor. Nice idea, for someone who has unlimited cabinet space.

But before you put the asparagus in the right pot, you need to peel it (easy) and tie it (tricky). Tying anything besides your sneakers usually requires 2 pairs of hands. I had one. The good thing was there was nobody around, so I kept my emotions to the minimum.

All this tying was for nothing though. My pots turned out to be either too wide or too short. No chance for asparagus to be upright. So I put it down, cooked little less than recommended, blended most of it anyway (I kept the top parts) and I wasn't disappointed. No one was. The plates were clean...because the pasta was simple, delicate and refreshing.

Recipe adapted from Giallo Zafferano

time: 20 minutes


  • 300 g (11 oz) pasta penne
  • 500 g ( 1 lbs) green asparagus
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped finely
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • salt, pepper


  1. Chop off and toss the white, tough part of asparagus. With a vegetable peeler, peel off the hard skin. 
  2. In a pot of salted water, cook the rest of asparagus for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, on a large skillet heat oil on medium. Add onion and sauté for 10 minutes (without changing its color).
  3. Dice cooked asparagus (everything but the top parts; you'll need them at the end) and transfer it (without the top parts) to the skillet with the onions (cooked for 10 minutes). Pour in wine. After a minute, pour in water. Cook and stir for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta. Leave 1/4 cup of cooking water for the sauce.
  4. Using a food processor with a steal blade, blend all the cooked vegetables till smooth and creamy. Transfer the sauce back onto the skillet together with cooked pasta and 1/4 cup of cooking water from pasta. Stir in Parmesan and the asparagus tops (you can leave some un-sauced for a nice contrast). Season to taste and serve.

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