We've turned the clocks forward, the snow is starting to melt and Spring is almost here! It's time to break free from the heavy winter food we've been turning to for the past few months and instead concentrate on lighter fresher flavors. Though you can pretty much buy it all year round, to me, nothing says Spring is here more, than the bright green crispness of fresh asparagus. Here's it's combined with fettuccine in a light lemon cream sauce--any hibernating tastebuds will definitely reawaken with this one!
You don't usually think of lemon when making a pasta sauce and I wasn't sure that everyone in my family would accept this different approach, but it turns out it was a hands-down winner and comments like, "what a refreshing approach!" and "this tastes like something you'd get in a restaurant!" and "Mom, you're just the greatest person in the world!" (okay, maybe they didn't go that far) but suffice it to say that everyone loved it and I know I will make this again soon. Even my mom, who had dropped by unexpectedly, sat down and enjoyed a bowl of it!
And happily it's easy to throw together. First you blanch the asparagus--
Then, saute some shallots in a little butter. Meanwhile you boil the fettuccine and then the whole thing gets mixed together with some heavy cream, lemon juice and a generous amount of lemon zest.
If you're going to indulge in carbs, this is totally worth it! The crunch of the asparagus paired with the chewiness of the fettuccine all lightly coated in a creamy lemony sauce is so refreshing! Definitely worth running the extra mile for and now, with the weather finally warming up, you can do it outside! Yippee!!
Fettuccine in Lemon Cream Sauce with Asparagus
Makes 6 servings
Prep Time: 45 minutes
1 pound fresh asparagus (try to get the thin kind if possible)
2 large shallots, finely chopped
1-2 lemons (depending on the size)
1 pound fettuccine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
1. Trim tough ends off of asparagus and cut diagonally into 1/4 inch slices. Zest lemons so that you have about 1 1/2 -2 teaspoons zest. Then cut lemon in half and squeeze to get 3 tablespoons juice (you may only need to use 1 lemon if lemon is large). Set aside.
2. Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and water and set it near the stove. Cook asparagus for about 3 minutes, until crisp tender and remove with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge into the ice bath to stop them from cooking any further. Keep pot of water boiling on stove, turn heat to low and cover. Drain asparagus and set aside some of the tips to use as a garnish at the end.
3. In a large heavy 12-inch skillet, heat the butter over medium-low heat and cook shallots, seasoning with salt and pepper and stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in cream and lemon zest and let simmer, stirring every now and then, until sauce is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and remove from the heat.
4. Bring the covered pot of water back to a boil and cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Ladle out about 1 cup of the pasta water and set aside. Then drain pasta in a colander and add to skillet. Put in asparagus (except for reserved tips), 1/2 cup pasta water, remaining lemon juice and more salt and pepper to taste. Cook over low heat, tossing gently, until heated through. If sauce seems too dry, add a little more of the reserved pasta water.
5. Serve immediately, garnished with asparagus tips.
6. Pasta keeps in an airtight container chilled in the refrigerator for several days and reheats well.
Note: Recipe adapted from an old issue of Gourmet Magazine. Original recipe included smoked salmon but no one in my family would have eaten it that way!