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Fresh asparagus is such a treat – I can hardly wait until the first spears appear in our local farmers markets.  This recipe is super-easy and delicious.  It can be made in about 30 minutes using your favorite pasta or gnocchi.  I like to use organic pasta from local Marin Pasta Works.

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Ingredients
Extra virgin olive oil (I use California Olive Ranch’s “everyday” extra virgin olive oil for this.)
1/2 cup chopped onion or shallot
1 bunch (approx. 1 pound) fresh asparagus
1/2 pound fresh pasta
Juice and zest of 1 Meyer lemon
1 cup freshly-grated Piave Vecchio or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil for finishing (I use a top-grade extra virgin olive oil for this, such as California Olive Ranch’s Limited Edition or Miller’s Blend.)

You will also need:
1 large skillet
1 large pot
Colander
Large spoon

Instructions
Fill the pot about half full with water.  Toss in about a tablespoon of sea salt.  Place on the heat and start to bring to a boil.

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Meanwhile, coat the bottom of the skillet and place it on the stove over medium heat.

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Add the onions or shallots and let them start to cook.

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Break the stems off the asparagus and discard (or use in stock, compost, etc.).

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Cut the asparagus into bitesize pieces (about an inch in length).

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By this time, your pasta water should be boiling.  Add the pasta to the water, stir it and bring it back to a boil.

When the onions are translucent, add the asparagus to the pan and continue to cook over medium heat until the asparagus is slightly tender.

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When the pasta is cooked but al dente (soft but still a little firm to the bite) in texture, remove it from the heat and pour into the colander to drain.

Pour the hot, drained pasta into the skillet with the asparagus and onions.

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Add the lemon juice and lemon zest.

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Stir gently to combine.  Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes.  The pasta should start to brown on the bottom.

Remove from the heat.  Add sea salt and pepper, to taste.

Plate the pasta in bowls.

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Top with grated cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. (I used California Olive Ranch’s Limited Reserve extra virgin olive oil for this.)

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Serve immediately.  Serves 2-3.

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