I love cooking year round, but the ease of summertime cooking really can’t be beat. If you’ve been following Cook Smarts for awhile, you know that we’re about unfussy meals. Meals that real people with real jobs and real budgets can easily prepare but may have never thought to cook (we have to add value somewhere, right?). This lemon asparagus pasta falls into that category.
It first showed up on one of our meal plan menus a few weeks back. It had only a few ingredients, and I know a few of our members wondered if it could be good with so little in it. But that’s what’s so amazing about summer cooking. You don’t need a lot to make this season’s produce shine. Plus, never under estimate the powers of pasta water, which magically adds flavor and texture. Honestly, I think it should be a required ingredient of all pasta dishes.
Before the asparagus disappears, enjoy this dish for a simple weeknight dinner. Toss in a few kernels of corn or some halved cherry tomatoes. Really, you can’t go wrong when you just open your grocery basket up to what the season wants to give you anyway.
- Salt pasta water like the sea. It adds flavor not only to your pasta but later in the pasta water, which forms the base of the simplest, purest sauce.
- Finish pasta dishes with a squeeze of lemon juice. It brings all the other flavors.
- Asparagus – 2 lbs.
- Garlic – 4 cloves, minced
- Basil – 2 sprigs, sliced
- Pennette – 3/4 lbs. (or sub with other short pasta)
- Olive oil – 1/4 cup
- Parmesan cheese – 2 oz, grated
- Lemon – 1/2, juice of
- Pine nuts – 1/4 cup
- Asparagus – Snap ends off and then chop into 2″ long pieces. If spears are thick, slice in half lengthwise first and then chop into shorter pieces.
- Basil – Slice into ribbons
- Cook pasta in heavily salted boiling water until it’s al dente (tender but with a bite). Save 1 cup of cooking water before draining.
- Heat up a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add in oil and then minced garlic to heated oil. Once you can smell the garlic, add in asparagus with a sprinkle of salt. Saute for 2 minutes.
- Add in drained pasta and pasta water. Cook until the water has thickened into a sauce, ~3 more minutes. Turn off heat and add in parmesan cheese and juice from half a lemon. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish pasta with basil and pine nuts.