A couple weekends ago, I purchased two large bunches of asparagus from our farmers’ market hoping to have one bunch on the Saturday and the other on the Sunday. However, the deliciousness of the asparagus scuppered all my plans and we gorged on asparagus on the Saturday. I think the beautiful green spears must have been cut that morning as the flavour was so sweet and green and we couldn’t get enough! In the afternoon, I roasted the first bunch and served it with fried eggs, pork rillettes and a baguette for lunch.
For dinner, I put together this simple spaghetti dish with what I had in the flat. I sauteed asparagus and tossed the spaghetti with the cooked vegetable and lashings of butter and Parmesan and black pepper. It’s very similar to the classic cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper), the Roman dish of pasta with Pecorino Romano and pepper. It’s exactly as you expect it to taste – creamy cheesey strands of spaghetti with the slight bit of coarsely ground black pepper – and I think with some tender asparagus, it’s enough for a meal.
Cacio e Pepe with Asparagus
One bunch asparagus
2 tbsps olive oil
3 tbsps unsalted butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Set a pot of water to boil for the spaghetti.
In the meantime, prepare the asparagus – peel and trim them (peeling instead of snapping saves a lot of the delicious vegetable) and then cut each spear into four pieces. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the asparagus until tender. Take off the heat and add the butter. Stir through.
The water should be boiling by now. Salt it and add the spaghetti to boil. When it’s al dente, set aside about a cupful of the pasta water and then drain the spaghetti and add to the sauteed asparagus. Scatter over the Parmesan and black pepper and toss all together, adding some of the pasta water as needed (when it all feels too dry). It should all be hot and creamy – serve immediately!