Tagliatelle with Asparagus

I’ve been having a grand time in the kitchen these days, cooking all the spring vegetables. The season for this produce is so short, you gotta be quick to snap up some of these treats before they’re gone again until next spring.

There were ramps (wild leeks):

Ramps.

Ramps.

which I chopped, sauteed in butter and added to an omelette.

And fiddleheads:

Fiddleheads.

Fiddleheads.

which I cooked in some garlic flavoured olive oil.

But my favourite of all the vegetables is asparagus. At this time of year, I eat it three or four times a week! This is the latest way I’ve found to enjoy it.

Begin by getting some asparagus.

Asparagus.

Asparagus.

Put the asparagus into a fry pan with water to cover.

Into the fry pan.

Into the fry pan.

While the asparagus is cooking, get the other ingredients ready.

There’s the prosciutto to slice.

Prosciutto.

Prosciutto.

And the onion. Grate it.

Grated onion.

Grated onion.

Measure the cream.

Cream.

Cream.

Measure the Sherry too.

Sherry.

Sherry.

Grate the Parmesan cheese.

Grated Parmesan.

Grated Parmesan.

And get the pasta out of its package.

Tagliatelle.

Tagliatelle.

When the asparagus is cooked, cut it into pieces.

Cooked asparagus.

Cooked asparagus.

Keep the asparagus tips separate for decoration.

Reserved the tips.

Reserved the tips.

Now, make the sauce.
Cook the onion and asparagus together.

Cooking the onion and asparagus.

Cooking the onion and asparagus.

Add the Sherry and cook for three more minutes.

Add the Sherry.

Add the Sherry.

Now add the rest of the asparagus, chives, Parmesan, prosciutto, salt and pepper.

The sauce.

The sauce.

Toss with the cooked pasta, garnish with the apsparagus tips and finish with some Parmesan cheese.

Tagliatelle with Asparagus.

Tagliatelle with Asparagus.

This started out as a recipe called Saffron Tagliatelle with Asparagus from the lovely book Pasta by Julia Della Croce, but I used plain tagliatelle and dried chives. And the next time, I’ll steam the asparagus instead, as I prefer steamed asparagus to boiled asparagus.

Tagliatelle with Asparagus

1-1/2 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed
salt, to taste
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 onion, grated
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp. fresh chives, snipped
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
1/4 lb. prosciutto, thinly sliced and cut into matchstick strips
freshly ground white or black pepper, to taste
1 lb. fresh tagliatelle

Using a vegetable peeler, peel off the thicker skin at the base end of each asparagus stalk to reveal the tender stalk. In a skillet large enough to accommodate the length of the asparagus, bring enough water to cover the asparagus to a boil.

Add 1 teaspoon salt per 5 cups of water and the asparagus to the pan. Boil until tender but not mushy, 5-6 minutes, depending on the freshness and maturity of the asparagus. Drain the asparagus immediately and plunge it into chilled water to arrest cooking. Cut the stalks across into diagonal slices about 1/4″ thick, keeping the tips whole.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add half the asparagus pieces and the grated onion. Stir and sauté until the onion wilts, about 1 minute. Cover and sauté gently for 1-2 minutes until soft. Stir in the sherry and allow the alcohol to evaporate, approximately 3 minutes.

Add the cream and allow it to come to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the remaining asparagus, the chives, Parmesan, prosciutto, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper.

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add the fresh tagliatelle and 1-1/2 tablespoons of salt. Let the water return to a boil and then cook for 15 seconds. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Toss together and serve immediately, topping each serving with 2 teaspoons or so of extra Parmesan.

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