Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Asparagus & Spring Onion Alfredo Sauce

Fettuccine Alfredo has been one of my favorite things to eat for as long as I can remember.   Butter...Cream...Cheese...Noodles.... How could I not love it?

Most of the time I don't mess with this simplest of sauces too much. But recently I made a version with spring onions and asparagus that was so good we had it twice within the span of one week. Unless I'm testing a recipe, we don't usually do repeats with such frequency. But this was that good.

This spring I have come to appreciate the taste of cream infused with the flavor of spring onions. I'm sure I have been enjoying this combination for years, but for some reason, this year I noticed it.... So it's a combination that has been showing up on our table a lot recently (in vegetable ragoûts, pasta sauces, gratins, etc.).

A little over a week ago when I walked into the kitchen to start dinner, I had pretty much decided we were going to have Fettuccine Alfredo. I was pressed for time and in a bad mood. This is not a proper frame of mind in which to cook...but it is the kind of day for which Fettuccine Alfredo was created: Cooking it solves my time problem. Eating it solves my mood problem.

As I was pulling out the ingredients I realized with a twinge of guilt that I had a drawer full of beautiful produce from the market that I really ought to be using.  It was then that it occurred to me that the flavor of the spring onions melted into the cream would make for a wonderful sort of Alfredo sauce....  I thought asparagus would only make it better.

Including these two spring vegetables in my Alfredo sauce added only a few moments to my time spent at the stove. And it was worth every second. I was spared the guilt that I might have felt if I had left those lovely spring onions and asparagus languishing in the produce drawer... And just like when I make it's slightly more streamlined namesake, eating it made me very happy.

Farfalle with Asparagus, Spring Onions & Alfredo Sauce

2 medium-sized spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced (white, plus a few inches of green)
3 T. Unsalted butter
1/2 c. Heavy cream
3 1/2 oz. (trimmed weight) asparagus, cut into 2 inch lengths
1 1/2 oz. finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino (or a combination)
6 to 7 oz. Farfalle

In a medium sized sauté pan set over moderate heat, melt 2 T. of the butter. Add the spring onions along with a pinch of salt and cook until softened. Add the cream. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Drop the asparagus into a large pot of rapidly boiling salted water. Cook until just tender—two minutes or so. Using a mesh skimmer or sieve, lift the asparagus out of the pot and spread on a kitchen towel. Return the water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking liquid.

Return the cream sauce to moderate heat and bring back to a simmer. Add the asparagus and swirl in the remaining tablespoon of butter.

Add the pasta and toss to coat. Toss in the cheese, reserving a couple of tablespoons to sprinkle over the plated pasta.

If the pasta sauce seems tight, add enough pasta water to create a fluid sauce that lightly coats the noodles and asparagus. Correct the seasoning with salt & freshly ground black pepper. Toss again and serve. Serves 2.


ProfMicken said...

Yum! Made this yesterday, as the asparagus was starting to finally poke up through the ground, in response to the rain. We'd quit making Fettuccini Alfredo, but this lighter version is going to become our "go to" recipe, even when we don't have asparagus. All the flavor -- especially with the onions flavoring the cream; such a wonderful nuance -- with fewer of the calories. Thank you!

Paige said...

Thanks for letting me know you tried this and liked it! I was thinking about making it tonight...we are unfortunately at the end of our asparagus season this year (since it started in March!!). Normally, this would be the height of the season.