Friday recipe: spring asparagus angel hair pasta

Tomorrow is opening day for one of my favorite Des Moines events: the Downtown Farmers’ Market! Held every Saturday through October 29, the market is a big social event, drawing thousands of people to the Court Avenue district. It’s a terrific treat for the senses with its sights, sounds (including live music), smells and textures. But most of all, it’s heaven for your taste buds with its fresh produce, cheeses, meats (from beef to elk to ostrich) and endless selection of baked goods and prepared foods.

Market vendors, who come from more than 50 counties across Iowa, also offer art, crafts, clothing, jewelry, flowers, herbs and much more, so there’s something for everyone. It’s a top-quality people-watching pleasure. As the market’s website says, “Come for the freshness and stay for the fun at the Downtown Farmers’ Market!”

In honor of tomorrow’s opening, today’s recipe comes courtesy of the Farmers’ Market – perfect for the asparagus now in season.

Spring Asparagus Angel Hair Pasta

  • 2 pounds of asparagus
  • Salt for water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, shaved thin and then julienned
  • 1 cup shallots, peeled and julienned
  • Pinch of crushed red peppers
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 3/4 cup fresh chives, chopped fine
  • 1 pound of angel hair pasta
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Rinse the asparagus and remove the bottom inch of the stem. Cut the tips into two-inch pieces. Cut the remaining piece julienned. Set the asparagus aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt. In a large nonstick skillet, saute the garlic, shallots and red pepper flakes in olive oil, until tender but not browned. Add the lemon juice and reduce by half.

Drop the pasta and the asparagus tips into the boiling water. Cook until the pasta is ala dente, about three to four minutes. Drain for a few minutes and add to the pan.

While the pasta is cooking, add the remaining asparagus to the pan with the shallots and saute until they begin to wilt. Toss in the chives, the pasta and cook until the remaining water has evaporated. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove from heat and add the Parmesan. Serve immediately.

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