Still trying to squeak a few summer days into your fall? Nothing says summer like asparagus. Pair it with lemon, pasta and cheese and you’ve got a one-pot, one bowl meal (or side dish) that can be served hot or cold. This dish can do double duty as a cold pasta salad…just be sure that asparagus stays a bit crispy. Cold mushy asparagus = bad vacation. This would pair well with any fish from our fantastic fishing lakes. My personal favorite is walleye. In fact, if you catch me a nice sized walleye, call me quickly and I will make this salad for you to enjoy it with.
- 1 (16 ounce) package penne pasta
- 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- salt. to taste
- freshly cracked black pepper. to taste
Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Stir in penne and return to a boil. Cook pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes. Penne will still be slightly firm and not quite yet al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, grab a large serving bowl and add the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
Add asparagus to the pot with the pasta; cook until pasta is tender and asparagus is softened but still bright green, no more than 2 more minutes. You want the pasta still to be al dente and the asparagus still a bit crunchy. The asparagus will continue to cook after it is drained. Drain pasta and asparagus.
Add the well drained pasta/asparagus to the lemon/oil mixture. Gently toss to combine. Sprinkle with most of the parmesan cheese and toss gently. Serve immediately topping with some of the reserved cheese.
A nice crisp white wine would pair nicely here as well. both lemon and asparagus can be hard to pair wines with, but I feel like the cheese gives this dish a little something that evens out their individual sharp flavors and eases the pairing possibilities. Something like a citrusy Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Gris would go nicely. Of course if you’re doing the fish alongside this, we all know that the unofficial wine to pair with walleye is one of our local rhubarb wines, but if you don’t have a bottle handy, the other suggestions will stand in just fine.
Content provided by Jan Ellis, Personal Chief