FOODIE ALERT!: Asparagus Penne

Posted by Cory , Thursday, February 11, 2010 8:04 PM

As a general rule, I can handle Rachael Ray approximately once or twice a month. If Food Network is my crack, RR and her pack-a-day-smoker voice are my Kryptonite (I know I just mixed metaphors; just let it fly on by, please). I'll give her this though: some of her recipes are pretty damn tasty.

When Schmoopy came to town last weekend, we decided to cook dinner Saturday night rather than going out again. I pulled out Ina, Giada and The Pioneer Woman for inspiration and we started poring through recipes. After some debate, Rachael Ray's Asparagus Penne was, surprisingly, our winner. Main selling point: I already had most of the ingredients. Also, involved a very small amount of actual work.

Asparagus Penne
by Rachael Ray

Salt
1 lb asparagus, trimmed
1 lb penne
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
¾ cup vegetable stock (we used chicken stock)
¾ cup half & half
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp lemon zest
black pepper
juice of 1 lemon
grated parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water. Drop the asparagus in for 2 minutes, then remove, drain and chop into 2-inch pieces. Add the pasta to the water and cook to al dente.

To a skillet placed over medium heat, add the olive oil and butter. When the butter melts into the oil, add the garlic and gently cook for 2-3 minutes, then sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook for one minute, stirring. Whisk in the stock, half & half, mustard and lemon zest. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, and cook for 2-3 minutes to thicken. Add the lemon juice, and gently toss the asparagus and pasta with the sauce to coat. Turn off the heat and adjust the salt and pepper to taste, then top with grated cheese and serve.

*Note: the original recipe calls for fresh tarragon stirred into the sauce along with the salt and pepper, but I wasn't about to buy a bunch of tarragon when I have absolutely no plans to use it any time soon. Additionally, we added some pre-cooked chicken at the very end, stirring it in to warm it through before eating.

*Served with simple bruschetta and green salad.

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