Hello again! We’ve finally emerged from our early spring slump. Our CSA ends in March and our farmers’ market closes for the season in mid-April, so we enter this confusing 6-week period where we have to shop at the regular grocery store to supplement what we can get at our neighborhood’s small local foods market. It’s very uninspiring.
We still aren’t quite into the summer harvest season, but Erik picked up some delicious local greens and asparagus this week that motivated me to get moving in the kitchen again. It was also 80 degrees yesterday! Crazy! The combo of perky veggies and a warm breeze have shaken me out of my funk enough to dig up an old favorite recipe. I’ve got a file folder full of recipe clippings, so I’m not sure where this one came from, but it was probably Real Simple or Whole Living. On a side note, it’s weird how you get to know a magazine’s font and layout after a while, isn’t it? Useless knowledge, but it sticks in my brain somehow. Anyway…I changed up the recipe to serve two and use more veggies and a leeeetle bit less pasta. The pasta adjustment is mostly because we have a FANTASTIC Italian grocery store nearby that sells dirt cheap, high quality, super delicious fresh pasta and I feel silly asking for 9 ounces of pasta, so I just get half a pound (which is 8). We’ve stopped making our own pasta, because this place is so great!
Besides being yummy, this is a very quick meal. If you start the water heating and the hazelnuts toasting before you slice the asparagus, you can have dinner ready in just about the time it takes to boil a pot of water. If, like me, you forget to start the water until you’re done prepping the asparagus, it’s still pretty fast.
Pasta with Asparagus and Hazelnuts
Makes 2 hearty or 3 smaller servings
|1/2 pound||Fresh long pasta||Spaghetti, linguine, angel hair, etc.||Capone Foods|
|1/4 cup||Hazelnuts||Bulk section|
|1 bunch||Asparagus||Sherman Market|
|1/4 cup||Olive oil||Capone Foods|
|1/2 tsp||Kosher salt|
|Several grinds||Black pepper||Freshly ground or a good sprinkling of pre-ground|
|1 ounce||Firm, salty cheese||Parmesan, ricotta salata, etc.||Sherman Market|
- Start heating a large pot of water on high heat. Give it a good pinch of kosher salt, if you’d like.
- Heat the oven to 350. Put the hazelnuts on a small baking sheet and toast them for 10-15 minutes or until fragrant and the skins are starting to darken. Once they’re toasted, give them a rough chop and set aside.
- While the water is heating and the hazelnuts are toasting, slice the asparagus as thinly as you can stand, lengthwise. You can use a vegetable peeler for this, if you want. I usually cut each spear in half lengthwise, then, placing the cut edge flat on the cutting board, cut each half into 3-5 long strips. The texture is best with thinner strips, but it’ll still be tasty if you lose patience.
- Once the water comes to a strong boil, add the asparagus and set a timer for 2 1/2 minutes.
- After the asparagus has cooked for a minute (1 1/2 minutes left on the timer), add the pasta to the same pot. Give the whole thing a stir so that the pasta doesn’t clump up.
- Once the pasta and asparagus are done, drain them and put back in the pot. Add the chopped hazelnuts, oil, salt, and pepper. Stir gently to distribute evenly. I normally use tongs, because they help to integrate the asparagus into the pasta.
- Put the pasta on two or three plates and grate or crumble the cheese on top. I like to use a vegetable peeler to carve nice long ribbons of Parmesan. Eat up!