Back home, my family is apart of a CSA that provides us with a weekly delivery of vegetables from the area. Having a CSA inspired me to cook with seasonal vegetables that I might not have bought at the store or market, one of those being asparagus. I have always admired the lean green stalks but never thought that I would be cooking with them on a weekly basis.
It was a Wednesday morning and I was in the midst of cleaning out the pantry and fridge because we had out CSA coming that afternoon. One bunch of asparagus sat in the fridge drawer while a box of leftover homemade pasta was perched on the shelf. The combination seemed familiar yet uncommon. After much pondering, I realized that it was the basis of a pasta primavera. All I needed to add was peas, cream, and maybe some bacon. The thought of adding those three other items didn’t sit well with me but I knew I could still embody the spring-like flavors with other ingredients.
I’ve cooked asparagus in almost every possible way: grilled, steamed, boiled, baked, sautéed, raw. After much experimentation, I can safety say that I prefer steaming them because they are then tender and can be added to salads and pastas. For this recipe, I start with steamed asparagus and then sauté them in olive oil, garlic, and shallots so that they stay tender but absorb flavor. This dish defines simplicity yet it is packed with a salty, garlic-y flavor. Want more? Add either lemon zest or red pepper flakes for an extra punch.
Pasta with Asparagus and Garlic
- 12 stalks of asparagus, tips trimmed, chopped into 1 inch pieces,
- 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 cups of cooked pasta, I used orecchiette and farfalle
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more to top
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- red pepper flakes or lemon zest, if you desire
Place a steaming basket over a pot of boiling water. Place the asparagus in the top half of the steamer and let them steam for 5-8 minutes, until tender. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a skillet, heat the olive oil. When hot, add in the garlic and shallots and stir frequently to make sure they brown but not burn. Lower the heat to low and cook for 1-2 minutes, until they become flagrant and begin to brown. Add in the asparagus and stir until all of asparagus is coated with the garlic-olive oil. Season with a pinch of salt. Remove from the heat.
Add the cooked pasta to the asparagus and continue to stir until the pasta is evenly coated with the garlic-olive oil. Add in the parmesan and mix until it begins to melt. Season with salt and pepper. Add the red pepper flakes or lemon zest if you so desire. Serve warm or cold.