On a recent Rachael Ray Show with guest Emeril Lagasse, they made a pasta primavera with saffron cream featuring one of my favorite vegetables, asparagus. Asparagus is in its seasonal prime right now and looking its glorious best; skinny smooth stalks and tight heads with no signs of flowering or wilting. And if the sight of gorgeous asparagus isn’t enough, Rachael gives it even more sex appeal by cutting it on a bias! The audience swoons…
When I attended public school back in the Jurassic Period, we had enough time in the day to take elective classes in art and music. During the ceramics chapter, my art teacher tasked us with making our favorite food out of clay. Amid an abundance of kiln-fired pizza, popcorn, hot dogs, and hamburgers on display at the end of the week was my realistically sculpted, painted green stalk of asparagus. It turns out I was the only kid who actually liked my vegetables. Somewhere in the land that time forgot, (A.K.A my basement), my asparagus artwork is collecting dust and waiting patiently to see the light of day once again.
I’d like to say it’s my creativity that drives me to change most recipes from the original, but more often I’m motivated by the frugal need to use up leftover bits from previous meals before spoilage ensues. In this case, the previous meal was a bacon pesto pizza with fresh mozzarella and the leftover bit the basil pesto sauce. And so a pasta primavera becomes a cream and pesto sauce mash up.
If we were vegetarians, I’d call pasta primavera with asparagus, onion, peas, and garlic “dinner”. However, we like our proteins, so this dish is getting shrimp added to it.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed and cut on a bias
- 1 small onion, sliced
- ¼ cup peas
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ pound shrimp
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons pesto sauce
- ½ pound penne (1/2 of a box)
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Set water to boil for pasta.
- Sauté the asparagus and onion in olive oil for a couple of minutes. Add the peas and garlic and continue cooking for another two minutes.
- Make a space in the center of the pan and place the shrimp in it. Cook the shrimp for a minute or two on each side until pink, then mix with vegetables. Set aside.
- Cook penne or other pasta al dente (one to two minutes less than instructions on the box). Drain and reserve a half cup of starchy water.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Slowly add the milk while whisking. Bring almost to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer gently for 5 minutes stirring often. When the sauce is thickened, stir in the pesto.
- Add the penne to the shrimp and vegetable pan. Stir in the cream pesto sauce. Add a bit of the reserved water, as needed. Sprinkle with a generous handful of grated Parmesan cheese.
And some wine to go with it… http://wp.me/p4rcsv-cy