Sunday, May 9, 2010

Lemony Goat Cheese Pasta with Sautéed Asparagus

Item # 3 of eating down the pantry : Pasta. I haven't been eating much pasta at all in France - Im just so obsessed with quesadillas and quiche and soup. But now it's time to finish it up. I was blog browsing and I came across a lemony goat cheese with asparagus pasta dish. Unfortunately I don't remember where I found it - sorry!

I made this dish for my birthday and invited Therese and Paula to come over and share it with me. I had been craving some asparagus ever since the last dinner in Italy when the 4 of us went to the market in Florence and made a huge going away dinner together. Plus, it's in season right now and veggies and fruits are always best in season.

So I trekked up to the market the morning of my birthday and ordered a kilo of asparagus. I had no idea how big a kilo would be - but its manageable once you cut the stems down. Plus - I was pleased to find that the asparagus that is grown here locally is a bit different than what we have at home....see below.

Does this look like an asparagus to you?

Have you ever zested with a potato peeler? Takes forever!

Lemony Goat Cheese Pasta with Sauteed Asparagus
Serves 4

1 kilo (2 and a half pounds I think) fresh asparagus, trimmed
1 large log of goat cheese
1 large lemon, zested
several cups of pasta (I always eyeball it)
1/4 cup olive oil plus 2 tbsp
1 tbsp herbs de provence
salt and pepper

1. Put a pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. When you drain the pasta reserve about a cup of the pasta water.
2. While the pasta is cooking, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet. Add the asparagus, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until the asparagus is tender but not mushy,5-7 minutes.
3. In the pot you used for the pasta (which has now been drained and is still in the colander) combine the goat cheese, olive oil, herbs de provence and lemon zest. Mix well until the cheese has melted. Little by little add the reserved pasta water until you get the desired consistency.
4. Add the pasta back to the pot and mix well. Then fold in the asparagus and serve.

It may not be the prettiest dish you ever prepare but it's quite satisfying.

These pretty little flowers came from Therese. May Day in France is actually a national holiday, like our Labor Day - which means everything is closed and if it were not that way I guarantee you there would be strikes - but it also means that people are selling Muguet des Bois or Lily of the Valley in English! I found a really great explanation of this tradition on Paris Postcard that I really recommend you check out. She explains it so well I don't even want to bother trying!

I had a pretty lovely birthday and I closed out the day with drinks at the Bibliotheque with friends.

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