(Mass Appeal) – It is prime asparagus season….. and here in the Pioneer Valley, we have some of the best asparagus in the world! Our Diva of Deliciousness, Tinky Weisblatt is here with a delicious recipe called Taffy’s Asparagus Penne.
This simple dish celebrates our region’s most famous vegetable, asparagus, a.k.a. Hadley Grass.
Difficulty Level: Easy
Preparation Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: about 15 minutes
1 pound penne
2 pounds fresh asparagus, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (plus a bit more if you like)
10 large cloves of garlic, cut lengthwise into thin pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional; if you put lots of salt in the penne and asparagus waters you won’t need it)
freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) sweet butter
freshly grated Italian cheese (such as Parmesan or Pecorino Romano) to taste-at least 1 cup, and maybe more
1 handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
First, cook the penne according to the package instructions. When it is cooked al dente, drain it, rinse it in cold water to cool it off, and drain it again.
While the pasta is cooking, place the asparagus in boiling water, and boil it for 2 minutes. Carefully drain the asparagus, rinse it with very cold water, and drain it again.
When the pasta is ready and drained, pour the oil into a large skillet, and warm it over medium heat for about a minute, until it begins to shimmer. The oil will be very hot. Carefully add the pieces of garlic to the oil and cook, stirring vigorously, until the garlic begins to brown. (This won’t take long.)
Add the asparagus, the salt (if needed), and the pepper to the garlic. Cook for another 2 minutes, shaking or stirring gently. Add the pasta and the butter and cook until the vegetables and pasta are hot and well mixed, 3 to 4 minutes.
Carefully transfer the mixture to a serving bowl, and toss in lots of cheese. Sprinkle the chopped parsley on top. Serve immediately with extra cheese on the table.
If you want to add meat to this dish, throw a little Prosciutto or cooked, chopped bacon in along with the cheese.