Spring is in the air, and it’s finally time for local asparagus again! As a kid, I didn’t get asparagus. I didn’t like the taste and I thought it looked weird. Just not interested, thanks. I was a really picky eater as a kid though – my mom still calls me out on the things I wouldn’t even sample that I now can’t get enough of. As an adult, though, I can’t really think of any other vegetables that make me excited about spring. And now I’m the kind of person who gets excited about vegetables, come to think of it. How times change.
It is worth remembering that sometimes kids with the least adventurous appetite can grow up to like asparagus, sweet potatoes and even spinach. There’s hope for the future of picky young people.
Back to the asparagus. Now that it’s finally asparagus season, I’m going to be eating as much of it as possible. I think the easiest ways are the best ways, and this is a pretty easy way to enjoy asparagus. It’s not as straightforward as cooking everything and plopping it on a plate, but it’s pretty close.
If you like asparagus even half as much as I do, this recipe will make you happy.
Tagliatelle with Asparagus, Pine Nuts and Lemon
On the Counter
5 oz., (150 g) tagliatelle (broken in half)
6 asparagus stalks (3 per serving)
1 tsp lemon zest (about one lemon’s worth)
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan (or Grana Padano for veggies) cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp chili/red pepper flakes
What to Do
Salt 1.5 liters of water and bring it to the boil in a tiered pot with a steamer. While the water is coming to a boil, snap off the tough ends of the asparagus (thanks to food guru Alton Brown for this tip) and cut the spears into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces.
Steam the asparagus for 5-7 minutes, depending on thickness.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet over low heat, toast the pine nuts. Put the pine nuts into the pan with no oil and agitate them frequently. It should take about 5 minutes for golden toasted nuts.
Once the nuts are finished, set them aside and heat the olive oil.
Set aside the steamed asparagus, steamer top and add the pasta into the boiling water.
Into shimmering olive oil, add minced garlic and cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Add chilli flakes and asparagus and toss to coat in the oil. After a few minutes, add 3 tablespoons of pasta water to the asparagus. Add in the pine nuts and lemon zest, and coat.
Drain the pasta when it’s al dente (cooked for about 6-7 minutes) and add to asparagus and oil. Top with cheese and combine until thoroughly coated.