I love dried pasta—it’s easy to make, and it’s easy to store. A pasta dish is simple, quick, and can be made from ingredients I have on hand for any unexpected guests. I always have a meal that I can prepare while I’m talking with friends or family. But when I want to get the most out of a seasonal ingredient, I gather the freshest examples and make a tasty pasta showcasing vegetables at the height of their goodness.

Equipment

  • Skillet or sauté pan
  • Tongs or colander
  • Measuring spoons
  • Large pot
  • Large bowl for the ice water
  • Large bowl for mixing the pasta
  • Tea towel or paper towels

Mise en Place

  • 1 pound of dried ancient-grain fettuccine
  • 1 pound of asparagus
  • 2 spring onions
  • ½ Bulb of a large fennel, about a half cup
  • 3 large cloves of garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons of Kosher salt for pasta water
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil for cooking vegetables
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter for cooking vegetables
  • 2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to dress the pasta
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter to dress the pasta
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of ½ small lemon
  • ½ cup of Ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup of finely chopped mix of fresh Italian parsley and oregano

Step by Step

  • Prepare the asparagus: Wash and snap off the woody stems of the stalks if they are thick. Trim the bottoms and peel. If you’re using pencil-thin asparagus, simply trim the bottoms.   
  • Boil the asparagus until just al dente (firm) and place it in an ice bath. When chilled, drain, and place on a tea towel or paper towel. This method allows the asparagus to retain its lovely green color
  • Cut the asparagus into ½ inch pieces. If using a thicker variety, slice in half, then cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Peel and thinly slice spring onions
  • Wash and thinly slice fennel
  • Sauté the fennel and spring onion in olive oil and butter
  • Add garlic and cook for a few minutes when the vegetables are soft. Remove from the heat
  • Cook the fettuccine in a large pot of salted boiling water
  • While the pasta is cooking, place a bowl in the oven
  • Add the parrot green asparagus to the vegetables and reheat; do not overcook
  • Remove the pasta with tongs or drain in a colander, reserving a couple of tablespoons of pasta water. Follow the directions on the pasta box for cooking time: 4 to 5 minutes. Do not overcook; the pasta should be al dente—firm
  • Add the pasta to the warm bowl, along with the vegetables, zest, lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil
  • Mix and add pasta water (a little at a time) until you have a creamy texture
  • Plate the pasta and add several dollops of ricotta cheese

Enjoy!
Serves 4 to 6.

By Marilyn