Another very easy recipe
We had this to eat for lunch on Saturday. It's tasty and very easy, ideal for a quick lunch. There is a risk that you might not cook the asparagus for exactly the right amount of time but the whole point of this recipe is that it's very easy and there's hardly any washing up. I'm sorry about the mixtures of weight systems but I think of some things in imperial, some in metric and some in handfuls.
Recipe serves four
400 g of Penne (similar weight and type of pasta such as fusilli would also be fine but it must take no less than 8 minutes to cook so none of that quick cook pasta)
2 bundles of fresh asparagus ideally room temperature
1 fresh unwaxed lemon
4 oz approximately of good butter (such as Lurpak)
Sufficient freshly grated parmesan to allow everyone to have a generous helping. Don't even think about using that horrible pre-grated stuff. This is an easy recipe so how hard is it to grate a bit of cheese? And if you don't have one, go straight out and buy a microplane grater.
Freshly ground black pepper
Snap the woody parts off the asparagus and save for another use if you're so inclined or throw them away. Cut the remaining asparagus into lengths similar to the length of the penne.
Remove the zest from the whole lemon and put into a microwavable bowl or jug. If you don't have a zester either grate off the zest or use a sharp knife to pare off the zest and and then cut into thin strips. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice of half the lemon into the bowl with the zest. Add the butter and while you're dealing with the next bit gently melt the butter lemon mixture in the microwave
Get 4 litres of well salted water boiling away in a big pan. Put the pasta in the pan and start timing once the water is bubbling away again. Five to eight minutes before the pasta is due to be cooked (the shorter of the two times quoted on the packet) add the asparagus to the pan. You'll have to use your judgement here. I had rather spindly asparagus which was also refrigerator cold so I allowed six minutes. I'd have allowed seven for chunkier asparagus and if mine hadn't come straight out of the fridge I might have given it a minute less.
Whilst the pasta and vegetables are boiling, taste the melted butter lemon mixture and add more lemon juice or butter if you think it needs it, I usually end up using the whole lemon. Add some freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Test the pasta at the due time and give it a minute or so more of cooking if it needs it.
Once the pasta and vegetables are done, drain them in a colander, then put them back in the pan and pour in the lemon butter mixture and toss until everything is evenly coated.
This recipe also works well subsituting the asparagus with brocolli florets (making sure you peel off any tough outer skin).
Serve onto pasta plates, hand out grated parmesan and a pepper grinder and enjoy!