This Asparagus & Pine Nut Pasta is a deliciously easy way to use spring asparagus. It’s a version of the classic olio, aglio, pepperoncino pasta. You can get this quick recipe together in the time it takes to boil the pasta. Despite the pine nuts, this is a remarkably low calorie dish if you keep the pasta to a 2 oz serving as we recommend for all our pasta recipes. Serve it with a little freshly grated Parmesan.
- In a large stockpot boil enough water for pasta. Add 1 tablespoon of salt.
- Cut the asparagus roughly the same length as the pasta you''re using.
- When the pasta water comes to a boil, add the salt and bring it back to a rolling boil, then add the pasta. Cook for 6 minutes.
- Add the asparagus to the boiling pasta and cook together for 2 minutes. Drain, reserving 1½ cup of the pasta water. Both the pasta and the asparagus should be very al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a wide, deep skillet or wok. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and the chili pepper and stir-fry until the garlic is golden, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat if the garlic is turning brown too quickly.
- Add the parsley and cook for 1 minute. Add a ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water to the pan and bring to a simmer. Add the pine nuts. Turn down heat to medium, adding more pasta water if the pan gets too dry.
- Mix in the pasta and asparagus. Add the grated cheese and half of the remaining reserved water. Turn up the heat and bring back to a boil. Cook stirring for 1 minute. Add more water, 1/4 cup at a time, if the pasta looks too dry, it should be slightly saucy. Taste for salt then serve with a grind of black pepper.
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
- 1 bunch thin green asparagus (about 1-pound) washed, tough root ends snapped off
- 8 ounces whole wheat penne or rigatoni (2-ounces per person)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 dried cayenne pepper pod or other dried chili, de-seeded (optional)
- 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
Ann's Tips and Tricks
When making oil based pasta sauces like this one, always reserve a cup or two of the hot pasta water to moisten the sauce. It will keep it light.