lemon asparagus pasta

Impulse buying is a great way to try out new recipes. The inlaws were over for the afternoon, ms ani off working chem ed as a poorly paid adjunct, so it was up to bob to make some kind of pasta for Isgouhi, who is a pasta lover like us. On the way home from a hair cut with his Lebanese cutter of 27 years, bob stops by the Bryn Mawr Acme. 30 years earlier when he first arrived on the Main Line, there was only Acme, and it was pretty unimaginative supermarketing, since apparently the moneyed interests in this affluent pocket of the west Philly suburbs did not have very good taste at the time. But then came a family chain Genuardi's that raised the bar, although it was bought out by Safeway later on, then Giant, and we got a Whole Foods to either side of us, then Trader Joes came in one, then two locations, on either side of us, then Wegmans came to King of Prussia next door. In short the supermarket scene steadily improved over the years. Acme lost ground and a few stores, but the Bryn Mawr location held out and then underwent an extensive rebuild and expansion last  year. We had acquired an anti-Acme bias by then so it was this random stop to get some yogurt to accompany the lamajoun the inlaws had brought that forced the issue of an impromptu visit, and on entering bob found nice thin asparagus on sale so he grabbed two (one for the dinner, one for the in-laws to take home), not to mention those supergreens that had disappeared from the local Giant (conveniently between work and home for dr bob), and the almond mini Magnum ice cream bars that ani had become addicted to from Wegmans until they stopped carrying it. How rude. So the asparagus sealed the deal, lemon asparagus pasta would be the goal, since it struck some recognition note inside bob's food memory banks.

Google quickly finds the "best lemon asparagus pasta recipe" and bob is skeptical at first but it came from Epicurious.com, the website of Buon Appetit (25 year subscriber until he quit the habit) and the expired Gourmet magazines (occasionally impulse bought when it existed), so it seemed worth the risk. One hitch, heavy cream. Normally we are against this ingredient, but once in a while, why not? So bob and Paul are off to Whole Foods for cream and some kind of fettuccine which bob thought was a better pairing than linguini. At first we grab De Cecco durum wheat flour fettuccine $3.99, but then bob spots a 2/$7.00 special (vegan) Bonachia whole wheat fettuccine, much cheaper and whole grain. We only needed one for the recipe. 10oz. Never heard of bonachia seed, but some of its flour gave it the name.

Isgouhi gave us the thumbs up. Maybe its worth the risk of trying in your kitchen?

ingredients

what they said   what we did
1 lb asparagus   1 lb asparagus
1 lb linguini   10 oz whole grain fettuccine (should be a long pasta)
3 T unsalted butter   3 T unsalted butter
3/4 c heavy cream   2/3 c heavy cream
2 T lemon zest, freshly grated (about 3 lemons)   1 T lemon zest, freshly grated (about 1 lemon)
1/4 c fresh lemon juice   1/4 c fresh lemon juice? (1 lemon, not measured)
3/4 t salt   1/2 t salt? why not a little pepper too?
1/3 c basil (parsley), finely chopped fresh leaves   2 T chopped fresh basil? parsley?
1/2 c parmesan cheese, freshly grated   1/2 c parmigiano

instructions

  1. Prepare the asparagus the usual smart way but do not overcook! Test for al dente fork penetration after a few minutes and drain and immerse in cold water to stop the mush factor dead. We used really thin asparagus and but them lengthwise in half after the top to get finer pieces, and then in thirds. Set aside.
  2. Zest one big lemon, and then squeeze the juice out. Go for more lemons if you want more intense lemon flavor.
  3. Meanwhile melt the butter on low heat (Isgouhi reminded bob to pay closer attention when it started browning) and then stir in the heavy cream, lemon stuff, salt, green chopped leaves, maybe some freshly ground black pepper? Warm through and taste: enough salt? enough lemon? Turn off the heat if the pasta is not ready.
  4. Meanwhile part two: boil the pasta water, and when ready to complete the dish, throw in the pasta and salt for the pasta water (not mentioned in the list), and boil the pasta till al dente. Our choice had a 3 minute recommendation but it still tasted a bit chewy for us, so we went another minute.
  5. Meanwhile part three: microwave the cut asparagus in a bowl if not still warm.
  6. Drain the pasta, combine with the sauce in the pan over low heat, and toss with the warm asparagus and cheese.
  7. Serve quickly.

notes

  1. "the best asparagus lemon pasta". [Epicurious source (1995)]. It was bowtie pasta and parsley in the original Epicurious recipe, but we were out of parsley and ani had some basil growing out on the back terrace, so we went with the basil. We used a bit less heavy cream, maybe, bob did not measure.
  2. al dente pasta company (since 1981). bonachia whole wheat fettuccine.
  3. chia seed: one of those miracle ancient grains that has more good stuff that the regular ones, used here as an egg substitute to bind the pasta. The hype: "Chia---a rediscovered ancient grain and superfood. ---twice the protein of any other seed or grain; ---five times more calcium than milk; ---more fiber than bran cereal; ---twice the potassium of bananas; ---three times more iron than spinach-more antioxidants than blueberries.---nutritionally superior to flax and soy-possesses the richest non-marine whole food source of dietary fiber and Omega-3."
  4. almond mini Magnum ice cream bars. right sized for a sweet snack.
  5. Wegmans, the incredible supermarket chain, still family run. Minutes away at King of Prussia, America's mall town.
  6. Illustrations available.
lemonasparaguspasta.htm: 27-sep-2013 [what, ME cook? 1984 dr bob enterprises]