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.