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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

asparagus season kicks off with asparagus, arugula, and cream with fettuccine

asparagus! you and your gorgeous spears of spring! welcome back, old friend. let us waste no time. 

for the first asparagus of the season, i saw no need to get fancy. this is a simple asparagus and arugula pasta with a creamy sauce and a little bacon for fun. you can substitute another green for the arugula (spinach, etc), but the arugula brings a great peppery flavor to jazz up the sweet and grassy asparagus. leave off the bacon and substitute vegetable oil for a vegetarian version. also, though they aren't in the recipe below, when i do this again i'll add garlic and/or shallots, and possibly lemon juice or lemon zest. feel free to add them to yours!

asparagus and arugula pasta with cream
serves 2
(note: my cook times below are approximate. most important thing is to cook the veggies until the asparagus is cooked but crisp and the arugula is wilted, and they are both still nice and green.)

1/2 bunch skinny asparagus (about 1/2 lb)
1/2 bunch arugula (about 2 handfuls)
4 strips bacon
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup homemade chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup heavy cream
1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for plating
salt and fresh cracked pepper 
enough fettuccine for 2

prep asparagus and arugula. remove woody ends from asparagus by bending the bottom of the stalk until it snaps off. it will know the right place to break. (this is a really satisfying task. i especially love the "pop" some of the thicker ones give.) chop into 2" long pieces.

for arugula, wash thoroughly, remove stems, and let soak in bowl of cold water for a few minutes to remove residual dirt and other matter. remove from water by hand (don't pour, or all the dirt comes with it!), and drain.

meanwhile, cook bacon in saute pan large enough to accommodate it. cook to desired crispness and remove from pan to drain on paper towels. pour off all but 1 Tbsp (reserve the rest in case you need a little more) of the bacon grease. (if not using bacon, or if bacon grease doesn't appeal, use veg oil or butter here.) heat it to medium and add the asparagus and saute , shaking pan, for about 2 minutes. add more oil if it gets too dry. add arugula to pan and cook, stirring or shaking, until slightly wilted but still bright green. add white wine to pan and cover for about 2 minutes to steam the vegetables. (watch the pan to make sure it doesn't cook too fast, and the asparagus stays crisp!)

cook fettuccine in large pot of boiling water and about a tablespoon of salt.

remove veggies from pan and reserve. add chicken or veg stock to pan and deglaze, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. let cook over medium heat until reduced by about half. stir in cream, parmesan cheese, and season to taste with salt and pepper. (overseasonning the sauce is a good idea here, since the veggies and pasta are unseasoned.) cook a couple of minutes longer to thicken sauce. 

toss sauce with hot pasta, and add vegetables. serve with crumbled bacon and fresh grated parmesan cheese and pepper.

asparagus-- canales farm
arugula-- stoney plains organic farm 
bacon-- skagit river ranch 
chicken stock-- made from stokesberry sustainable farm chicken
fettuccine-- made from caity's eggs, woodring northwest 


  1. My garden has produced exactly three spears so far. Nice fat ones. But only three.

  2. tyler, i remember when i was first moving you told me to plant asparagus crowns immediately so in a couple of years i could start harvesting. i still haven't done it... is it tricky to grow? do you have a plan for your three fat spears?

  3. They didn't make it to the kitchen. I just ate em. Hoping when I head down to the garden this weekend there will be at least enough to grill up and plate beside a steak for one.