Linguini with Asparagus & Hazelnuts

I love the simplicity of this recipe and how it allows asparagus, fresh from the farm share, stand out in harmony with a buttery and herbacious lemon sauce. Feel free to use whatever type of pasta you'd like, but I think the wide strands of linguini are the best vehicle for this particular recipe. If you are feeling more daring, I'd suggest making your own pasta. The dough itself, is quite easy (even easier with a food processor, but you can do by hand). The only thing  you really need is a pasta machine, to roll out the thin sheets of dough. I suggest looking at a Homegoods or Marshalls. I've seen them there for under $30 (its an investment that will last a life time).

I have somewhat struggled with dough recipes in the past - especially when I play around with the type of flour I use. I specifically had a bag of whole wheat flour, so I ran a search on the interent for a recipe calling for the same. My first hit was for a recipe by Lidia Bastianch. I didn't need to look any further; Lidia is a goddess in the Italian culinary world. If there was anyone who had a good recipe for pasta, then she did.

I had just walked in the door on Tuesday, after picking up the farm share. I ran to my Kitchen Aid mixer, pulled the recipe up on my iPhone and started measuring out my ingredients. As I opened my whole wheat flour I was pleasantly surprised to see my 1-cup measuring cup that had been missing for several months. It was a good omen. Flour, salt, olive oil and egg. How much simpler does it get? In just a few minutes I had pasta dough ready to work with.

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I wanted the recipe to be simple and focused on one key ingredient: the asparagus.

Before cooking my pasta (which would only take about 2 minutes being so fresh), I used the pot of boiling water to steam half of the bunch of asparagus for a few minutes, and then put in an ice bath to retain its bright green color.

For the sauce, I started melting 2 tablespoons of organic pastuered salted butter in a saute pan. I added sage and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to add some brightness to the dish. Meanwhile, I took a small handful of hazelnuts and toasted them in the oven. It wasnt a necessary step, but I like the deeper flavor it adds than just using raw nuts.

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I mentioned this was a simple recipe, but you have to be a good multi-tasker as everything happens so quickly. Hazelnuts were toasting, butter was melting, and the aspargus was steamed and ready. All there was left to do was through in my fresh linguini into a bot of boiling salted water.

Two minutes later, I pulled the pasta, add added to the pan of melted butter along with diced asparagus. Tossing the pasta in the pan of sauce allows the pasta to continue to absorb some of the flavors, while warming up the asparagus that was cooked in advance.

I split the pasta over two bowls and topped with fresh cracked pepper, shaved pecorio romano, and chopped toasted hazelnuts for myself.

Ingredients:

  • Linguini (measured for 2 servings)
  • A half bunch of asparagus
  • 2 tbs of salted butter
  • tsp of fresh sage or other herbs (optional)
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 2 -3 tbs of hazelnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup shaved or 1/8 cup of grated pecorino romano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Fill up pot used for cooking pasta, halfway. Using a steaming basket, steam asparagus for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and put in ice bath to retain bright green color.
  • Add more water to pot, full enough to cook pasta.