Thursday, July 31, 2008

Straw and Hay Fettuccine Tangle with Spring Asparagus Puree

I hate to say that we had this a month ago, at least. I'm even a little sheepish about it. I have a really strong affection to this pesto. Stupid simple to pull together and it was incredibly versatile. I know Ruth will get a laugh at this - yet another pesto for Presto Pasta Night! :)

Found in Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking, I chose this pasta dish because I really wanted to showcase the fresh vegetables I found at the market - asparagus and peas. If you are familiar with this recipe, you'll know that it doesn't call for fresh peas... but I had them, and they were green, and I wanted to eat them, so in they went with the asparagus to blanch.

Really tasty. Happened to have about a pint of fresh peas from the market, so I tossed those in to blanch with the asparagus. I did cheat and buy my pasta this time. Isn't it weird, how foreign something can be until you're used to it? At this point, I can't imagine not making my own pasta - so long as it isn't anything shaped - which I guess is kinda simple, but still. We have the attachment for macaroni, but my one attempt was a disaster. Pasta sheets it shall be. :)

Anyway, the combination of egg and spinach pasta was visually interesting and it tasted quite nice, too. The spinach pasta added an element we aren't normally used to - so much so that I want to try to make my own spinach pasta... but that is a story for another post.

The asparagus, spinach and peas played really nicely together in the puree. The flavors blended, leaving them all to be equal players - no one flavor stood among the rest. I think I added a little more than half a lemon, but I really enjoy the extra bite of citrus in pesto.

Because I'd added a good cup of peas to the mix, I ended up with quite a lot of puree. I followed Heidi's suggestion in the book and used it everywhere I could: in sandwiches, other recipes calling for pesto, and on pizza.... all in a 10 day period. We even had the pesto pizza TWICE in that time. Why? Because the pesto, on a pizza, with ricotta, goat cheese, or mozzarella, is amazing - and we tried it each way. You'd think that having the same flavor so many times would get old, but it didn't. Our socks were that knocked off.

I'm sorry to share this past the asparagus season, but if you're like me a cheat a little and get them at other times in the season, please bookmark this recipe and give it a try. In pasta, it is surprisingly creamy, smooth and tart. On pizza, it is even better.

Straw and Hay Fettuccine Tangle with Spring Asparagus Puree
c/o Super Natural Cooking, by Heidi Swanson

The folate-rich asparagus and spinach puree can be made ahead of time; store it in the refrigerator in a jar topped with a layer of olive oil. It’s also great slathered on a grilled vegetable Panini, as a swirl in a simple potato soup, or as a sauce for pizza.

Spring Asparagus Puree
1 bunch asparagus spears, trimmed and halved crosswise
3 handfuls baby spinach leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
1 cup toasted pine nuts
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for topping
Juice of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

4 ounces dried spinach fettuccine, or 6 ounces fresh
4 ounces dried egg fettuccine, or 6 ounces fresh

Bring two pots of water to a rolling boil, one large and one medium. You’ll use the large one to cook the pasta and the medium one to blanch the asparagus.

To make the asparagus puree, salt the asparagus water and drop the spears into the pot. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the spears are bright green and barely tender. Drain and transfer to a food processor (preferably) or a blender. Add the spinach, garlic, the 1 cup of Parmesan, and ¾ cup of the pine nuts. Puree and, with the motor running, drizzle the ¼ cup olive oil until a paste forms. It should be the loose consistency of pesto; if too thick, thin it with a bit of the pasta water. Add the lemon juice and salt, then taste and adjust the seasoning.

Salt the pasta water well and cook the pasta until just tender; you’ll need less time for fresh pasta, more for dried. Drain and toss immediately with 1 cup of the asparagus puree, stirring in more afterward depending on how heavily coated you like your pasta. Serve sprinkled with the remaining ¼ cup toasted pine nuts, a dusting of Parmesan, and a quick drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Serves 4 to 6.


Jeena said...

Fabulous recipe I love the green colour.

Grace said...

i love that you added peas to the puree. i don't particularly care for asparagus, so i think the peas would work well to balance that out. it's a beautiful dish--nicely done! :)

Kate / Kajal said...

well i share your affection with pesto ...when i make myself a fresh jar, i find myself having pesto with everything possible :p
The fettuccine looks just what i'd love to have for lunch right now... :)

Ruth Daniels said...

Are you kidding me???? Not laughing but definitely jumping around for joy. Thanks for sharing another great pesto dish!

And thanks for playing Presto Pasta Nights. I love it when you do.

Deborah said...

I love basil pesto on pizza, so I bet this pesto is just as good! And the pasta dish sounds amazing!

Jen (Modern Beet) said...

I totally love that cookbook! For a sweet treat I recommend trying the spiced caramel corn recipe... the Otsu is pretty delicious too. And oh, the mesquite chocolate chip cookies -- to die for!

Professional Discount Cookware said...

Thanks Katie,
For such a nice recipe.The pea you added in puree is delicious.

nancy said...

good lord. I want that for lunch right now.

Bellini Valli said...

Cosnider it bookmarked. I have asparagus all year round too..don't you just love a global market ...even though I try to eat locally...but this is Canada:D

Haley said...

We would like to feature this recipe on our blog. Please email if interested. Thanks :)