Friday, April 8, 2011

Farfalle with Asparagus, Sun-Dried Tomato and Boursin

Is this the perfect light pasta dish? I think so! Am I obsessed with asparagus? Absolutely!

I don't really think of asparagus as something that has a whole lot of flavor on its own. It's flavor isn't even something I really remember afterward (I can sit here and imagine what a fresh floret of broccoli tastes like, or a carrot, but asparagus eludes me). What it does have going for it is a beautiful fresh crispness. I love the texture - substantial, yet delicate. That is what keeps me coming back for more.

I think asparagus is great in this dish because it doesn't compete with all of the other strong flavors, but its texture complements the whole. This dish has tangy, chewy sun-dried tomatoes, creamy, garlicy boursin cheese, crisp, toasty pine nuts and fresh-tasting parsley and dill. Each one of these flavors is wonderful on its own, but I think they harmonize even more beautifully. I know this is a dish I'll be coming back to again and again, for its deliciousness as well as its simplicity.

Farfalle with Asparagus, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Boursin
From Bride and Groom: First and Forever cookbook.

1/3 c pine nuts
8 oz farfalle pasta (any pasta will work, of course, but I prefer a bite-sized shape here)
1 1b asparagus spears, cut into 1 1/2" pieces (make sure you trim or peel the ends!)
1 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (if you use oil-packed ones, be sure to drain them)
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
2 oz garlic and fines herbes Boursin
1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
3/4 tsp lemon pepper
fresh parsley for garnishing

Add the pine nuts to a dry skillet over medium heat. Toast, shaking frequently, for 2-3 minutes.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water for about 8-10 minutes. Add the asparagus to the pot and cook 1-2 minutes more, until crisp-tender. Drain the pasta and asparagus, reserving 3/4 c cooking water.

In the same pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat (make sure the pot is dry or the oil might splatter!). Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds, until fragrant and beginning to brown. Return the pasta and asparagus to the pan, along with the reserved cooking water. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Season with kosher salt and more lemon pepper, to taste, and a garnish of parsley.

This dish is best if served immediately. The recipe says it makes two servings, though I thought it was more like three. Be warned that the leftovers don't reheat very well - the cheese doesn't take well to the microwave. I ate the leftovers and lived, but the dish was not nearly so enjoyable as the first day, so plan your portions accordingly!

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