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Pasta with Asparagus & Tomato
Italy - Umbria
  -   Pasta con Asparagi
For 1 #
1 hr  
This dish from Umbria is very simple and easy to make, and surpisingly tasty. Asparagus is also used this way farther north in Italy, but without tomatoes. They do, however, prefer to use wild asparagus, which is more intense in flavor than our commercial variety. This sauce can be reheated once, if done quickly, without the asparagus becoming too mushy. If making ahead, cut the simmer time to compensate for reheating.

Asparagus (1)
Tomatoes, ripe (2)
Olive Oil, ExtV (3)
Pasta (4)
--- Garnish
Pecorino Cheese
Prep   -   (20 min)
  1. Cut off ASPARAGUS tips (about 2 inches) and cut tender parts of stems into segments about 2 inches long. Do not discard the tough ends, but keep ends, stems and tips separate. You want to end up with a combined weight of tips and stems of 12 to 14 ounces.
  2. Scald TOMATOES 1 minute in boiling water, chill in cold water and peel. Dice about 3/4 inch on a side.
  3. Grate CHEESE for garnish, if using.
Run   -   (40 min)
  1. Bring your salted pasta water up to a boil. Stir in the Tough Asparagus Ends, bring back to a boil for about 20 minutes. Scoop out and discard the Asparagus ends - keep the water hot.
  2. You can put your Pasta into the boiling water at this point.
  3. In a sauté pan, heat Olive Oil. Stir in Asparagus Stems and fry stirring for about 4 minutes. Stir in Asparagus Tips and fry stirring for about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the Tomatoes along with Salt and Pepper. Bring to a boil and keep covered for two minutes to get the tomatoes hot, then uncover and keep at at a light boil for another 8 minutes, stirring gently now and then. This will reduce the amount of liquid released by the tomatoes. Keep warm.
  5. When Pasta is al dente, drain. Return it to the (now empty) pot and stir in a tiny bit of Olive Oil to keep it from sticking. You could also do this "Italian style" by simply mixing in the Sauce. This is one of the few pasta recipes I like to serve "Italian style".
  6. Serve immediately with Grated Cheese on the side - or not, as you wish.
  1. Asparagus:   Use smaller diameter Asparagus with a decent length of tender stem.
  2. Tomatoes:   It is more important than in most recipes to use "Roma" type tomatoes as they release a lot less liquid. Time to reduce the amount of liquid is very short in this recipe.
  3. Olive Oil:   Note that I have reduced the amount of oil from 1/2 cup in the pattern recipe to 1/4 cup. Feel free to increase the amount a bit if you prefer.
  4. Pasta:   In Umbria they commonly use Orecchiette, but I think the Casaricci shown in the photo better matches the shape of the asparagus. For details see our Italian Short Pasta Shapes page. Feel free to use whatever shape you like.
  5. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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