Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Farfalle w/ Asparagus and Mushrooms

As many of you know, Adam is an excellent cook. And I'm an excellent sous chef. Well, maybe just good at cutting vegetables, but whatever! Recently, Adam discovered the Williams-Sonoma cookbook series and so far every single recipe we've tried has been good except for in which we erroneously included the stem/stalk of leeks which apparently you aren't supposed to eat. Here's one of our latest favorites (pictured above):

Farfalle w/ Asparagus and Mushrooms

W-S calls it 'Lasagnette w/ Asparagus and Morels', but we modified it since farafelle is easier to find and morels are only fresh in the spring. We'll try it with morels in the spring but shitakes are an excellent replacement.

2 lb thick asparagus spears
Salt and pepper
1/3 cub extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 large, sweet white onion such as Vidalia, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb fresh morel (in spring) or shitake mushrooms, quartered
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
Leaves from 5 large fresh thyme sprigs, coarsely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 lb farfalle (or lasagnette or spaghetti)
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted**
Handful of fresh Italian parsley levaes, coarsely chopped
1 cup grated pecorino cheese (toscano or romano)

**to toast the pine nuts: Place the nuts in a dry frying pan on the stove top. Toast nuts over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden. Keep a close eye on them, for they burn quickly. Immediately transfer the nuts to a plate or paper towl and them cool before using. Nuts will continue to toast, so cook them just a shade lighter than desired (golden NOT brown). They will become darker and crispier as they cool.

Trim off the tough stem ends from the asperagus spears (we are not 100% sure why it says to do this but it think it is to make the asparagus more flavorful and digestible).
Using a vegetable peeler, and starting about 2 inches below the tip, peel off the thin outer skin from each spear. cut on the diagonal into 1/2 inch pieces. Plunge the asparagus into a large pot of salted boiling water and blanch for 1 minute. Using a large skimmer, transfer the asparagus to a colander, reserving the cooking water. Run cold water over the asparagus to preseve its bright green color and to stop the cooking. Drain the asparagus and set aside.

In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the 1/3 cup olive oil. Add the onion and saute until soft and just starting to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, morels, asparagus, and sald and pepper to taste and saute for 2 mintutes. Pour in the stock and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 4-5 mintues. Add the thyme and lemon juice and mix well.

While the vegetables are simmering, return the reserved asparagus-cooking water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 7-9 minutes. Drain well and add the the frying pan. Add the pine nuts and parsley and toss briefly to blend all the ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a drizzle of olive oil.
Transfer the pasta to a warmed large, shallow bowl and sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of the cheese over the top. Pass the remaining cheese at the table.

According to the cookbook, makes 4 main-course or 6 first-course servings- probably true if you are having a dinner party. But, if it's just for you and your family at home, it makes more like 8 servings.

According to my calculations, there are 535 calories per serving (assuming 8 servings). Most of the calories are in the olive oil (75 cal/serving), mushrooms (93 cal/serving), pine nuts (63 cal/serving), cheese (50 cal/serving), and the pasta (190 cal/serving) so you can make it lower cal by manipulating those ingredients. But it's all healthy calories and SO delicious so I'd say leave it as is!

Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

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