pasta with lemon and asparagus
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Three tricks pasta and I’m pleased to announce that this is truly a pasta template, versatile as anything. I give you the pasta with lemon and any veg, plus Parmesan because pasta can’t be without it.
The tricks are really quite simple but the combination produces a devastatingly tasty dish, veggie or not, in just about the time that your pasta cooks, plus five minutes or so.
First: cook your veg together with the pasta, adjusting the cooking time according to the type of veg and desired cookedness. As illustrated below, asparagus cooks in no time at all (‘faster than asparagus cooking’ as Emperor Octavian August would say) so add it only for the last two or three minutes. Swap asparagus for broccoli, peas, sliced beans, cauliflower, green cabbage and whatever else you deem fit to be tossed with pasta, butter and Parmesan.
Second: melting lemon. I discovered it by accident, cooking salmon I believe, that lemon pieces thrown into hot butter will go WHOOSH!!! then melt beautifully and create devastatingly lovely sauce, very intense so sometimes half a lemon will do. The lemon needs to be rindless, pithless and segmented unless you’d rather spit out bits later. I’m explaining the how.
Third: that reserved cooking water from under the pasta is not a myth, it actually does make up nice sauce. You need to drain the pasta et al into a colander here, rather than fish it out with slotted spoon as I sometimes do, but make sure the first glug is decanted into a cup not the sink. It then goes into the butter-lemon-Parmesan concoction and hey presto! sauce.
So it’s all very simple really and devastatingly* rewarding. If you’re a belligerent non-veggie, fry up some pancetta, prosciutto or cut up sausages beforehand to toss in at the last moment.
*I know – I’ve been itching to use the word. A lot. But that’s it now, I promise.
- Serves 2
- 80–100g dried pasta per person (calamarata rings here)
- 12-14 fresh asparagus spears
- 3-4 tbsp. butter
- 1 lemon
- 30-40g freshly grated Parmesan
Put a large pan of salty water on the boil for the pasta. Break off the wooden ends of the asparagus and wash them thoroughly. Chop off the tips and reserve, slice the stems on the diagonal into about 1cm pieces.
Fillet the lemon – here’s how. Put the pasta into the boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions. 3 minutes before the end of cooking time throw in the chopped asparagus. When ready, drain it into a colander, reserving a cupful of the cooking water.
Place a large pan or skillet over high heat. Add the butter, let it foam up, then add the asparagus tips. A minute later add the lemon pieces, turn up the heat and let the lemon dissolve. Mix in a third of the grated Parmesan.
Tip the drained pasta and asparagus into the pan, add some cooking water to make up the sauce, top with another third of Parmesan and toss it well in the sauce. Divide between plates and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.