I’m lucky enough to share my life and my kitchen with a great cook. Everybody deserves a break though, and Monday nights are Brian’s night off. Usually I cook something that you might see on that semi-homemade show on food tv (and no, I don’t watch that show). I’m a competent cook and good at menu creating and plating, but I don’t mind admitting I’m not the chef of the house.
Tonight though, I had some extra time. I took the day off work and once I finished the exciting business of hanging around with the cable guy while he installed a new DVR box, made a loaf of French bread,got new tires put on my car and stopped by the library, I got an early start on dinner.
Glass of red wine in hand, Divina Cucina apron on, I skipped my mise en place (usually the one thing I *am* responsible for) and dove into Jack Bishop’s Asparagus with Pink Tomato Sauce and Pine Nuts from his Pasta e Verdura book. (Props to my sister-in-law for giving me this book – a fantastic selection of vegetarian pasta sauces!)
The preparation goes something like this:
Mince several leaves of basil (enough for 1/3 cup — next time I’ll double that)
Cut about a pound of asparagus into halves lengthwise (being careful not to cut yourself like I did) then into one-inch pieces. Steam a couple minutes, not sticking your cut finger into the steam, and set aside. (With the amount of counter space I have, this means to leave them on the stove.)
Get some pasta boiling. I used 12 oz of fettucine.
Take 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes (he specifies plum tomatoes but my Kroger didn’t have them so I used the least pathetic regular ones I could find) and core then half around the “equator.” Squeeze out the excess juice and seeds (this won’t hurt if you haven’t cut yourself slicing the asparagus) then chop. Set aside also.
Toast a handful or so of pine nuts in a pan. Set aside.
Chop 4 garlic cloves. He calls for minced garlic. Anthony Bourdain’s admonitions against garlic press in mind (“don’t put it through a press. I don’t know what that junk is that squeezes out of the end of those things, but it ain’t garlic.”) I chopped them finely with a knife. Sautee the garlic in 3 tablespoons of olive oil for a couple minutes until your kitchen smells great.
Throw in the tomatoes, add some salt and pepper. Cook up for another couple minutes then add your minced basil and some cream. The recipe says 3 tablespoons. I used a third of a cup (dunno if that’s more or not). Let it reduce for a minute or two.
Stir in the asparagus and let it warm up.
Toss in the drained pasta, mix in parmesan and top with pine nuts. The recipe didn’t call for anything else but I had some fresh mozzarella to use so I cubed some and topped the pasta with it. It would also be good with sauteed shrimp.
This made two dinner portions with two more left for lunch for us both tomorrow.
I’d make this again, but not on a regular work night. I’ll also wait until next tomato season and maybe add some spice, like a dash of cayenne pepper next time.
This was fun but I look forward to the chef’s return.