RECIPE

Penne with Asparagus, Mint and Pistachios

Pecorino Romano cheese is the final touch for this touch of spring pasta dish with fresh asparagus and herbs in a lemon wine sauce.

Ingredients

  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 1/2 pound thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • Ice water
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock, divided
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pistachios, toasted
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or white balsamic vinegar
  • A handful of grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more to pass at table

Preparation

Bring a pot of water to a boil; salt it, add the pasta and cook to al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water.

While the pasta is working, in a large skillet, bring 2 inches of water to a boil; salt it, add the asparagus and cook for 3 minutes. Transfer the asparagus to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking; drain and set aside. Reserve the skillet.

Using a food processor, puree 1/2 cup stock, the mint, parsley, pistachios and the EVOO.

In the reserved skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the flour. Stir in the wine and cook until reduced to 2 tablespoons. Add the remaining 1 cup stock and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat to low.

Stir in the lemon juice (or vinegar). Remove from the heat and stir in the pistachio puree.

Add the pasta, asparagus and a handful of cheese to the skillet; toss, stirring in the reserved cooking water to thin the consistency if desired. Season with salt and pepper. Pass more cheese at the table.

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Rachael Ray