Primi Piatti: Pasta, Rice, Soups

Pasta with Smoked Pancetta and White Asparagus Cream

White Asparagus is a proper delicacy: its slightly bitter yet delicate taste makes it a vegetable quite appreciated, reduced to cream to season a risotto or as in this case, a pasta dish.

Our staple for a perfect pasta with asparagus is to cook the pasta in the same water used to boil the asparagus – it saves water and helps getting as much flavour as possible out of your white asparagus!

The town of Bassano del Grappa, in the northern region of Veneto, is famous for the production of a particularly delicate white asparagus. As this kind of asparagus is grown covered in soil, the sprouts never get to develop the green hue given by the presence of chlorophyll. This white asparagus is assigned the Protected Designation of Origin certification, and it is particularly sought after for its more subtle bittersweet flavour.   


Serves: 2 | Preparation time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 25-30 mins

  • White asparagus: 350 g
  • Penne or any short pasta shape: 180 g
  • Diced smoked pancetta: 80 g
  • Parmigiano cheese, grated: 30 g
  • Thyme, fresh: 1 sprig
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO): 2 tbsp
  • Salt and pepper: to taste

Method

Rinse the asparagus under cold running water and dry them with a clean kitchen cloth. Use a peeler to remove the outer layer of the asparagus, then cut away the very bottom of the asparagus; both parts are hard and unpleasant to eat.

Boil the asparagus in salted water for 15-20 minutes, then use a skimmer to remove it from the water. Set the water aside as we will use it later to cook the pasta, which will absorb some of the taste of the asparagus.

Coarsely chop the asparagus and put them in a food processor. Add a tablespoon of the water you cooked the asparagus in, along with the parmesan, the thyme and 1 tablespoon of oil. Blend until you get a homogeneous cream, then season to taste.

Tip: If the asparagus cream is too liquid, simply add some more grated Parmigiano cheese. Otherwise, should it be too thick, add some more cooking water.

Place the asparagus cream in a pan and warm it up over low heat. In another pan, heat up the remaining olive oil and brown the bacon cubes until crunchy.

Boil the pasta in the same water you used for the asparagus. When it’s cooked through, drain it and add it to the pan with the asparagus cream, along with the bacon cubes and some more thyme leaves.

Your pasta is ready to be served.

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