I do believe I have saved the best for last…well second to last as I will have two posts from Venice! It was just too amazing for one. Venice was my favorite city of the five we visited in Italy. I believe we went at exactly the right time of year. The weather was a stunning 72 degrees everyday! All this beauty inspired an equally beautiful recipe: Penne Pasta with Asparagus and Pine Nuts!
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Venice! Truly a Dream!
Venice is actually 118 small islands connected by small bridges. Every time you cross a bridge you step from one island to the next. There are no cars because there are no streets, just walkways and squares where children play and people congregate. In fact only children under ten are allowed to ride bikes, there simply isn’t room. The ‘streets’ are waterways so everyone walks or boats to get around. It is true Venice is sinking and this breaks my heart. It is truly the most unique and lovely place I could ever imagine. So visit before you have to wear waders.
Penne Pasta with Asparagus and Pine Nuts
Now on to the food. I am finally sharing a pasta recipe! So far I have shared a watermelon and strawberry salad, focaccia bread, a lemon ricotta cheesecake and a grilled chicken recipe (links)…it’s definitely time to share pasta… this is a post about Italy after all! This is my “Penne Pasta with Asparagus and Pine Nuts”. This meal can be prepped and cooked in about 15 -20 minutes. We cook the Penne pasta al dente (translation: to the tooth! It means firm but not under cooked), blanche the asparagus and roast the pine nuts then add a traditional cream based sauce.
MAKING THIS MEAL GLUTEN FREE AND JUST AS GOOD!
If you live without gluten you don’t have to miss out on exceptional pasta! Jovial Foods makes the best gluten free pasta around. I am lucky enough to live by a store that carries it, but if you aren’t you can order it here!
The Recipe: Penne Pasta with Asparagus and Pine Nuts
- 16 oz. penne pasta, cooked to package instructions
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream
- 1-2 bundles asparagus cut into 3” pieces
- ½ cup roasted pine nuts
- 3 green onions sliced
- 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 Tablespoon flour
- 1 cup or more, or less freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Sea salt
- Chopped Italian parsley, for garnish
Set a large pot of water on stove to boil. While waiting for water to boil, slice onions, cut asparagus, mince garlic, roast pine nuts and grate cheese.
When water is boiling add the pasta to the water and set timer for three minutes short of cooking time. (ex: if pasta says cook for 10 minutes, set timer for 7 minutes)
Add butter to a small pot and melt on med/high heat. When melted add flour and whisk to form a roux. The roux will form a paste and thicken your cream sauce. Add cream to pot very slowly, whisking continuously. Allow cream to thicken slightly. Add green onions and garlic to cream, stir. Reduce heat to low so cream does not continue to thicken.
When pasta timer goes off add asparagus to pasta water and set timer for 3 more minutes. When timer goes off, pour pasta and asparagus into a colander, drain (no rinsing) and then pour into a large bowl. Pour crème mixture over pasta. Add Parmesan cheese while slowly mixing. Add sea salt to taste, garnish with pine nuts and parsley.
This is a favorite in my “Pasta, Pasta Pasta!” cooking class. I hope you enjoy it as much as my students and family. ~ Linda Spiker
MAY I PLEASE ASK A FAVOR?
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