Penne con asparagi e panna- Pasta with asparagus and cream

The first asparagus I ever ate was wrapped in prosciutto- yes, yes, this was in the US. It did not impress me and, truth be told, I haven’t given it lots of consideration. I started eating asparagus about 10 years ago, when I moved to Belgium. Belgians consider it a noble vegetable and so it is. It is a celebration of spring; from late March till mid-June you can see people with bunches of asparagus everywhere you look…a bit like the French and their baguettes. I’m pretty sure it was not social pressure, but curiosity that made me try the green (I prefer the green), long-line, phallus-like stems. I, obviously, loved it! I never put it in pasta before, I guess it’s the wisdom that comes with age that made me do it today. We picked a beautiful bunch from the farmers market and headed home to make one of the easiest, but most memorable dishes: penne with asparagus in a cream sauce.

What you need

300 grams penne
8-10 asparagus stems
250 panna da cuccina or heavy cream
150 grams parmigiano-regiano
A big lump of butter
Salt & pepper to tatse
Fresh herbs to garnish

How to make asparagus pasta

Start by heating two pots of salty water on the stove top: one is for pasta, one for blanching the asparagus. Discard the woody bottoms of the asparagus (actually, I gave them to the dog, she absolutely loves asparagus, too). Cut the beautiful, frilly tips and set aside, separately. Cut the rest of the stalk in equal pieces, same size as the penne (well, more or less). Blanch the stalk pieces for two minutes, the tops just for one minute. When ready, dump them in a bawl with ice-cold water; this will make them keep their lovely green color. In the meantime, melt the butter, add the cream, salt and freshly-ground Asparagus pastapepper and mix till the sauce begins to thicken. Add 100 grams of the parmesan to the sauce and keep on stirring occasionally. The sauce should be ready in about 10 minutes, now you’re ready to toss the asparagus pieces into the sauce. Boil the pasta to your preference (do consider to make it al dente) and dump it in the sauce pan. Mix well, so all the pasta is covered in the creamy, cheesy sauce. As for the fresh herbs, we had basil, flat parsley, ruccola and a few fennel leaves. Top the pasta with the rest of the parmigiano and the fresh herbs and enjoy with a good glass of red.

Ps. Not sure you can see the asparagus pieces in the picture, but seriously guys, I’m not gonna take a trillion shots to get THE ONE- I like my food hot. And I’m not gonna use my tweezers to arrange everything on the plate (because I’m not mad…or at least I’m not mad like this). The asperge is there, trust me 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s