Yesterday was quite a day. First, I had one of my car windows broken by a piece of gravel kicked up by a weed-wacker. I'm now driving around with a garbage bag taped to my car door until it is fixed. Then, working with some museum objects I accidentally dug shards of broken glass into my finger. A band-aid fixed that. Arriving home I was hesitant to head into the kitchen - there are knives and other sharp objects there and my luck hadn't been the best. But I had tons of asparagus in the fridge and needed to do something about that.
Luckily, no further calamities occurred and my night ended with a bright springtime pasta: Pasta with Asparagus & Lemon from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics.
1 1/2 pounds asparagus (without a scale in the the kitchen, I just used two big bunches)
1 pound penne pasta (my box of whole grain pasta was only 13.25 oz)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.
Meanwhile, rinse the asparagus, snap off the tough lower stems, and discard them (hello, composter!). Cut off 1 1/2 inches of the asparagus tips and reserve. Chop the rest of the stems (doesn't matter what size as you'll puree them later). Cook the asparagus tips in boiling water to cover for 3-4 minutes, until tender. Remove to a colander and set aside. In the same pot blanch the chopped asparagus stems for 6-7 minutes, until tender. Drain, rinse in cold water, and reserve separately.
Cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente. While the pasta cooks, puree the asparagus stems, lemon juice, and olive oil in a blender or food processor until smooth. If necessary, add a little of the hot pasta water. Add salt and pepper to taste (I found this needed quite a bit of salt).
Drain the pasta and transfer it to a large bowl. Stir in the asparagus puree, the asparagus tips, and the grated cheese. If the pasta has cooled, stir it in a pot over high heat until hot. Serve immediately.