This beautiful pasta from Molly Watson is a delicious and easy way to turn that asparagus you find at the market -- fingers crossed -- into a fast dinner. You can find ricotta and fresh pasta at some farmers markets. If you don't have fresh pasta, dried works too.
Prep Time: 30m
Cook Time: 15m
1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound)
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for the pasta water
1 pound fresh pasta (tagliatelle is a good choice)
1/2 to 1 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
- Put on a large pot of salted water to boil.
- Trim the asparagus: snap off the tough ends of each spear by holding it at either end and bending until it naturally snaps apart. Or, if you have a bit of time, you can keep more of the asparagus: cut off and discard the bottom 1/2-inch of each spear and then peel the bottom half of each spear. Cut the trimmed spears into bite-size pieces. Set aside.
- Peel and mince the shallot. Set aside.
- Working over a small bowl, zest the lemon: use a zester or microplane to remove only the thin yellow layer of the peel, avoiding the bitter white pith that lies beneath, until you have 1/4 teaspoon of zest. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze 2 teaspoons of lemon juice into the bowl with the zest. Reserve the remaining lemon for a final sprinkle of zest or spritz of juice at the end. Set aside.
- Choose a large sauté pan that will be big enough to hold the pasta and the asparagus. Set the pan over medium-high heat and melt the butter. Add the shallot and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook, still stirring frequently, until the asparagus turns bright green, about 3 minutes. Add the 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest and 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Stir to combine. Taste and add more salt, lemon juice, and/or lemon zest as you like. Remove the mixture from the heat.
- Cook the pasta until tender to the bite, drain, and add it to the asparagus mixture. Gently toss to coat the pasta with the asparagus. Divide the pasta between 4 plates or bowls. Top the servings evenly with dollops of the ricotta, sprinkle with the Parmesan, and add freshly ground black pepper to taste. If you like lemon, a final tiny sprinkle of lemon zest or spritz of lemon juice can be lovely. Serve immediately.
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