asparagus green bean carbonara pasta

We grabbed the USA La Cucina Italiana 2012 annual pasta issue  (featuring Fresh Pasta!) immediately, even though we have been very good at controlling our food mag acquisition habit these past years. Wow, so many great ideas. We settled on this one to use with fresh whole wheat pasta that we had to cut as fettuccine since Kitchen-Aid has decided that Americans only need lasagna, fettuccine and spaghetti choices in their 3 piece pasta roller attachment set. Really fresh pasta is easy and quick and much more nutritious if you go the whole wheat route. We did 1.5 lbs pasta for 9 people and added one whole egg to the recipe.

Instead of the normal green beans we went with the frozen french cut variety, much more delicate, and we picked up some of the thinnest asparagus we have ever seen, cut off the ends and slit them lengthwise about halfway up the stalk. The asparagus went into the salted boiling water first because the french cut green beans were quicker to cook. We used our Asian noodle sieve (what is that called exactly) to pluck out the asparagus, then did the beans, then plucked them out, then after a bit when the sauce was ready (I forgot to pick up shallots, so we used a small onion), we repeated with the pasta noodles. We cut off the tip end thirds of the asparagus and pulled on the remaining split ends to separate into halves after cooling them down in cold water.

My mother-in-law said we should have put in the whole pound of frozen string beans (we used one whole bunch of asparagus) instead of only half, for more color and taste. Next time. The verdict: this one is a keeper!

ingredients

La Cucina version   our modfications
fine sea salt   big salt for the pasta water, but yeah, fine sea salt
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed   1/2 -1 lb french cut (style?) green beans
10 medium asparagus spears, trimmed   1 whole bunch of super thin asparagus, trimmed
4 T butter   ok
1/3 c plus 1 T pine nuts   1/2 c pine nuts
1/3 c finely chopped shallot   ok, but we forgot so used 1 small onion, finely chopped
3/4 c freshly grated parmigiano (or Grana Padano)
        plus more for serving
  3/4 - 1 c freshly grated parmigiano
        plus more for serving
1 large egg plus 3 large egg yolks   2 large egg plus 3 large egg yolks
2 T finely chopped flat-leaf parsley   ok
freshly ground black pepper to taste (be generous)   ok
1 lb fresh (or dried) maccheroni alla chitarra
      (available at some supermarkets and specialty stores)
  1.5 lbs fresh whole wheat pasta

instructions

  1. Start with the asparagus prep. Try to find the narrrowest possible spears. If you can, cut off the tough ends, then cut in half crosswise (cut along the long direction) halfway up the stalk, roughly. If not,  quarter the larger ones (they say cut in half, but narrower strips work better here) crosswise, then quarter lengthwise. After cooking, cut the tip third off narrow spears and pull on the two halves of the rest until they separate.
  2. If you use fresh beans, prep them. Go with the frozen french cut if you want a more delicate dish.
  3. Prepare your shallots (or onion). We use our trusty cheap veggie dicer purchased on the streets of Munich in our second year abroad in 1980-81.
  4. Toast your pine nuts in a nonstick pan briefly if you want to bring out their flavor. Ms ani is big on toasting nuts. This is optional.
  5. Grate your cheese.
  6. Separate your egg yolks and combine with the whole eggs, whisking together with the cheese, parsley and pepper. Set aside.
  7. Meanwhile you should have started the abundant pasta water boiling, salt it with big salt, I just toss some in, I never learned how to regulate this quantity.
  8. Cook the green beans first if you follow their approach, but the asparagus first if you do our variation. Then remove with a large fine mesh sieve.
  9. Repeat with the asparagus if you are following their recipe, the french cut green beans in our variation.
  10. Next melt the butter in a large nonstick chef's pan or equivalent and saute your shallots (onion) and pine nuts with 1/4 t salt briefly until the former are softened, then add in the veggies, combine nicely and then remove from the heat.
  11. Cook the pasta al dente in the already boiling water.
  12. Drain and combine with the veggie mixture and mix well, then combine with the egg-cheese mixture.
  13. Serve immediately with extra freshly grated cheese at the table.

notes

  1. La Cucina Italiana (USA) maccheroni alla chitarra vegetable carbonara. (alla "carbonara di verdura), October, 2012 annual pasta issue: fresh pasta! pp.82-83. We were the first to comment on the recipe online, after realizing that we were only registered at the Italian magazine site, so we did a free registration at the USA mag site.
  2. KitchenAid 3 piece pasta roller attachment set. If you look hard, it seems they have a 5 piece set with angel hair and "thick noodle" cutter rollers. Will have to see if we can score the latter on e-Bay.
  3. We've been trying to stick with whole grain pasta this century. Some fine products are available in the dry pasta line, and increasingly in the fresh pasta available in supermarkets.
  4. Illustrations available.
veggiecarbonara.htm: 26-aug-2012 [what, ME cook? 1984 dr bob enterprises]