Spring Celebration: Pasta with Asparagus and Herbs

Fresh asparagus dressed with spring herbs make this versatile pasta dish a delightful dinner entrée.
March/April 2004
http://www.motherearthliving.com/Cooking-Methods/spring-celebration-pasta-with-asparagus-and-herbs.aspx
Fresh asparagus dressed with spring herbs makes a delightful dinner entrée.


Photo By Joe Coca

Pasta with Asparagus and Herbs
Serves 6

This is a versatile dish; you can use whatever mushrooms are available, replace the red wine with white, or just use broth. Try different herbs such as parsley, chives, cress, marjoram, or arugula. It’s all good.

1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus Salt
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms such as oyster, chanterelle, shiitake, or common field mushrooms
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 heads roasted garlic with oil from roasting
1/2 cup red wine
3/4 cup vegetable broth
Freshly ground pepper
1 pound dried pasta, such as farfalle, fusilli, or ziti; or 1 1/2 pounds fresh whole-wheat noodles, homemade or purchased
1 tablespoon fresh minced tarragon
1/3 cup fresh chopped dill sprigs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for topping

1. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Wash the asparagus and break off the tough ends. Cut them into 1 1/2 inch lengths. When the water comes to a boil, add salt and blanch the asparagus for 2 to 3 minutes, until crisp tender. Remove with a strainer or slotted spoon and reserve.

2. Using a mushroom brush or a damp paper towel, clean the mushrooms. Slice or tear them into 1-inch pieces. In a large nonreactive sauté pan, combine the butter and olive oil and heat over moderate heat. Sauté the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Slip garlic buds from their skins and add to the pan, stirring for another minute.

3. Add the wine and broth, more salt, and pepper generously; cook for about 3 minutes more. Cover and remove from heat.

4. Cook the pasta al dente and drain. Add pasta to the pan of sautéed mushrooms over medium heat, along with the asparagus, herbs, and Parmesan. Toss well and season to taste. Serve immediately on warm pasta plates and pass extra Parmesan.