Friday, May 6, 2011
Fresh, seasonal ingredients + careful cooking = Great dish
Asparagus is my husband's favorite veggie, and while I like it less frequently than he does, in the springtime it's easier to work into our diet on a regular basis, because it's available from local farms and could not be fresher.
The other nice ingredient we've had on hand a lot lately is fresh fennel bulb, which we both like in many preparations (roasted, grilled, raw, etc.). He said, how about combining the two into a dish?
This is what I came up with -- the top photo is in the pan, the bottom one on the plate with shaved Parmesan. It was pretty darn delish!
Recipe: Bow-Tie Pasta with Asparagus and Fennel
(Serves 2, can be doubled)
2 T olive or canola oil
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and cut into small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
12 ounces fresh asparagus, bottoms trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 cup (or more) prepared pesto, preferably homemade
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups bowtie pasta, preferably whole wheat, cooked according to package directions
Shaved Parmesan cheese, to taste
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add diced fennel and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and stir in garlic, stir-fry for another 3 minutes. Add broth and wine (if using), cover and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
Increase heat to medium-high, uncover and add asparagus. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, until asparagus is just tender. Be careful not to overcook. Stir in remaining ingredients -- pesto, seasonings and pasta -- cover, and reduce heat to medium.
Remove from heat as soon as the mixture is heated through, no more than another 3 minutes.
Spoon into serving bowls and sprinkle with the cheese, or pass cheese at the table.
Wine recommendation: Go with a rich white wine such as a buttery chardonnay or a golden-hued viognier or viognier blend (we popped open a white Cotes-du-Rhone, a viognier blend).