By Chef Domenica Catelli
I don’t know what the weather is like where you live, but right now in Northern California where I am based, we are having an unusually warm winter.
I have to say that by this time we are usually bogged down with rain and chilly temperatures. But today (and for the better part of the past few weeks) it has been in the seventies.
Tulips and daffodils are blooming everywhere. I have sandals and a sundress on and am ready to enjoy first-of-the-season organic asparagus. I know you can get asparagus year round but the growing season in the U.S. is February-June-ish depending on where you are.
One of my favorite dishes is a pasta dish I had in Italy made with freshly picked wild asparagus. One of my best friends, Gia, and I were up in a small hill town outside of Rome and saw these little old ladies gathering the asparagus. When we stumbled into our dinner spot, there was the same wild asparagus on the menu. While we may never get that specific pasta again we can create something similar and delicious here at home.
Remember this easy-to-cook vegetable is a nutritional giant! Asparagus is an excellent source of vitamin K, the B vitamin folate, vitamin C, and vitamin A.
1 bunch thin asparagus, rinsed
1⁄2 pound spaghetti or pasta
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pinch red chili flakes
Salt and fresh cracked pepper
1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or Italian parsley
1. Snap the ends off the asparagus and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces 2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the spaghetti, and stir.
3. Place olive oil, garlic, and chili flakes in a large sauté pan.
4. Cook garlic over medium heat until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes.
5. Add asparagus and stir.
6. Drain spaghetti when cooked “al dente” (a bit firm to the bite). Reserve about a 1⁄2 cup of the pasta water.
7. Add the pasta to the pan with asparagus, toss with the Parmesan and basil and pepper. Add a bit of the pasta water to give more moisture.
Until next time stay fresh and delicious!