Saturday, March 13, 2010

Asparagus Dish Bears Repeating

Springtime brings fresh asparagus at reasonable prices around here. Although I love them steamed with a little garlic, roasted with a little olive oil and some pepper, and blanched, cut in bite sized pieces, chilled and added to salads, my favorite dish that includes asparagus is a pasta dish that includes long, thin pasta, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, asparagus, garlic and some spices. It is simple but delicious. It turns out that I blogged about it last spring, but a recipe this good bears repeating.

Lately I've been turning to familiar recipes that I know work and are not too time consuming. Work has been eating up a lot of time lately, but we should soon be back to normal, whatever that is. I've also been doing some graphics at work, this week in relation to an FDA application, so that's been fun. On the home front we are still trying to find the leak by the window on the south wall and it looks like the window itself needs to be replaced. Planning has also begun on a bathroom remodel. Since the bathroom is over 25 years old it is probably mature enough for a face lift...and maybe a new shower enclosure. I'm the kind of girl who loves hardware stores almost as much as kitchen ware stores, so this is exciting.

To make this yummy asparagus dish this time I used angel hair pasta because that is what was in the pantry and it turned out to work very well with this sauce. Once you mix it with the sauce you pile it up on a platter. Since the asparagus is scattered on top of the pasta, then sprinkled with grated Parmesan, you don't have to worry about mixing it into the pasta. Although I didn't do it this time, sometimes I garnish this with pine nuts that I've toasted in a small cast iron skillet. A great dish becomes even better that way.

The quality of your ingredients shine with a dish this simple. Use the best asparagus you can find, fresh ricotta, good garlic, and grate the nutmeg right into the sauce if you have nutmegs and a grater. Freshly ground black pepper is a big plus, too.

The photos of the finished dish on this post are terrible. My only excuse is that it was late, I had worked all day and it smelled so good I didn't take many photos. Also this dish is best served right's that for rationalization?

Pasta with Ricotta and Asparagus
from the Mediterranean Diet Cookbook

3/4 lb tender young asparagus
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 tablespoons olive oil
(optional - 2 tablespoons fresh mint, minced)
1 pound long pasta - fettuccine, linguine, spaghetti, angel hair are all good
6 quarts water
1/2 pound fresh creamy ricotta (or mild goat cheese)
dash nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper to taste (I like a lot)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Trim tough ends off asparagus. Cut tender parts into 1 inch lengths. In a saute pan, gently stew the garlic and asparagus in the oil until the vegetables are tender, but not brown (about 15 minutes). Stir in mint if using. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in lightly salted water. While pasta cooks, extract 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and mix it in a small saucepan with the ricotta. Set saucepan over low heat and gently cream the ricotta and cooking water. When the ricotta is warm, taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Add nutmeg and1 tablespoon grated cheese. Stir to combine.

Drain the pasta and combine immediately with the cheese sauce, tossing to mix well. Arrange on a warm platter and pour asparagus and oil mixture over the top. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and serve at once.

Serves 6


  1. It looks SO GOOD, but, I have NEVER learned to like asparagus, so am passing this along to a friend who teases me about them every year - she eats them in front of me so I can make faces.

    BTW, I wanted to update you - I moved my "professional" blog to wordpress - here.

  2. That sounds like a recipe worth trying. Asparagus are stillsome weeks away, but I've been mentally bookmarking recipes to try out this season. Yours is on the list. ;)

  3. Looks so healthy, got to try this recipe. Thanks.

  4. To date I remember clearly the first time I had asparagus and absolutely fell in love with it - grilled with olive oil, salt and pepper. It was bursting with sweetness.

    Though we get asparagus here, it is always in very small quantities and very expensive.

  5. Hi--I am Tanita's asparagus-loving friend and I cannot wait to try your recipe!

  6. This looks so simple and soo delish! I'm an absolute asparagus fan, and love cheese too. :)