Recipe: Pasta and asparagus with lemon and basil

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Asparagus season is my favourite time of year. As a vegetarian I’m really pleased to see a vegetable take pride of place on menus and cookery magazines. The British asparagus season is one of the triumphs of the culinary calendar and well worth waiting for. I’m lucky to have a nearby deli that gets a supply from a local farm. As I can’t grow it myself, this is the next best thing. Freshness is the key to the flavour. If you’re buying from a supermarket check that it’s British asparagus, the stuff shipped from Peru (why?) is only an expensive disappointment.

The first bunch on the year is only served one way – boiled and served with melted butter for dipping. After that, I start looking for something different, but I still want to retain the flavour integrity of this very special ingredient.

This recipe is nearly as simple as serving it with melted butter. I think it showcases the best of Italy and Britain – good ingredients, cooked simply and left to speak for themselves. And use the best olive oil you’ve got for this. It’s a celebration of the season.

Pasta with asparagus photo DSCN0731_zps2a301cc6.jpg

Ingredients
200g pasta (rigatoni or penne)
1 bunch asparagus (about 10-12 spears)
1 fat clove garlic, crushed
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
2 fresh basil stalks, finely shredded

Put the pasta on to boil in plenty of salted water.
Break off the tough end of the asparagus spears and trim off the pointy leaves on the stalk below the tips.
Cut off the tips of the asparagus spears and slice the stalks on a steep diagonal.
Three minutes before the pasta is due to finish cooking, add the asparagus to the pan.
Add the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and basil to a bowl and mix throughly.
Season with salt and pepper.
Drain the pasta and asparagus.
Toss in the dressing and serve.

Serves 2
You can add a grating of vegetarian parmesan-style cheese, but personally, I prefer this dish without.

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10 responses »

  1. I must admit to preferring my asparagus unmucked about with, so to speak – it always seems a waste putting it in flans and quiches! But I will try this for sure, as I think it will let the flavours shine. Did you just use the asparagus tips?

  2. This has all the stalks in – just sliced thinly on the diagonal. I wouldn’t waste any! I’ve seen recipes for stir-fried asparagus as well – surely they jest!

  3. The deli I buy it from get it from a local farmer. They were selling it last year and I crossed the road to find Waitrose selling the stuff from Peru. Why?

    • I was pretty peed off to find Waitrose selling Peru asparagus last weekend when I knew damn well the Evesham stuff was available, as I’d seen it on the menu at the Evesham Hotel!

    • I’m much the same, Jan. I wouldn’t want to do any recipe where you can’t taste the main ingredient and doubly so for asparagus! This one is very easy to do and tastes great!

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