Pasta with Fresh Asparagus and Mushrooms

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We’re big fans of pasta al crudo over here. It’s quick, it’s easy, and, as the name implies, it requires little to no cooking beyond the noodles themselves. Just chop some stuff up, drizzle it with oil, let it marinate a bit in a big bowl, dump warm, cooked noodles on top, maybe sprinkle on some cheese or herbs or breadcrumbs or all three, and you’re done. 

  • A big handful of the first cherry tomatoes and baby zucchini usually merits a splurge on fresh mozz. 
  • Sushi-grade tuna, oregano, and lemon zest are for when we’re feeling posh (thanks, Marc Vetri).
  • And this one, from Nigella Lawson, is evergreen. We make it nearly every week mushrooms grace the CSA.

So when this season’s first sharebox contained both cremini and asparagus, dinner plans pretty much made themselves.

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Al crudo just means the non-noodle ingredients aren’t cooked. Here I blanched the asparagus, but you absolutely could use thin-enough spears raw.
Pasta with Fresh Asparagus and Mushrooms

After the always-too-short asparagus season, give this a go with sugar snap or garden peas. Serves 2 generously, 4 as a smaller side. 

  • 5 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced thin (white buttons are fine, too)
  • 5 oz asparagus
  • 1/2 pound pasta (preferably fresh)
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • zest and juice of 1 small lemon
  • 1 small clove garlic or 1 stalk green garlic (white part only), minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (3-4 sprigs)
  • big handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • grated parmesan or romano cheese, for serving
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No scale? I used most of a small box of mushrooms and an OK-sign-ful of asparagus (preference given to the thinner stalks).

Set a large pot of well-salted water to boil.

Meanwhile, marinate the mushrooms in a large bowl with the oil, garlic, lemon zest and juice, thyme, and a big pinch of salt.

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I wish WordPress had a scratch-and-sniff plugin.

Trim the asparagus of any woody ends, and cut into 2-inch pieces. Once the water’s boiling, blanch the asparagus for one minute if really thin (pencil-sized or smaller), or two minutes if thicker. Pull it out with a spider or strainer, and give it a quick dunk in ice water to arrest the cooking and lock in the green color. Drain, and add the asparagus to the mushroom bowl. Give everything a quick toss and let it sit together while you prep the pasta.

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Save time (and fuel) by using the same water to blanch the asparagus and cook the pasta. 

Return the water to boiling, and cook the pasta to just al dente

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I prefer a short shape that mimics the asparagus here. Severino’s trofiette is perfect.

Drain gently. Don’t shake the colander (you want to leave a fair bit of moisture in place), and don’t rinse (you want the pasta to stay HOT). Immediately add the pasta to the bowl containing the mushroom mixture.

Toss well, then add the parsley, cracked pepper, and grated cheese. Toss again, dress with a splash more olive oil, if you like, and serve with more cheese on the side.

What to drink

Those earthy mushrooms and woodsy thyme call for a heartier, fleshier rosé, and in this case, I’ve gone with a rosato from Northern Italy. Proprietà Sperino’s Nebbiolo-based Rosa del Rosa—whose luscious citrus and red-berry notes intertwine with tender herbs and even sea salt—is a brilliant match if you can find it. Other great options would be rosati from Barbera, Sangiovese, or even Pinot Noir

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