Let me take the liberty of ordering you around for a second:
1) Get yourself to the store and buy some fresh asparagus. Now. (Pretty please.)
2) Come home. Put some water on to boil. A little balsamic vinegar on to simmer. Roast up that asparagus.
3) Throw this pasta together. (Yes, it really is that simple. Get out! I know.)
4) Try not to eat the whole pot while relishing in the fact that you just made some of the most delicious, light pasta filled with roasted asparagus and lightly covered in a slightly sweet balsamic sauce and salty Parmesan cheese – all in about 30 minutes (well, perhaps more since I have no idea how far your grocery store is).
Simple. Flavorful. On the healthyish end of the pasta spectrum. Seriously, one of the best pasta dishes of the year, in my little podunk opinion.
If asparagus aren’t in season, cut 1 pound of broccoli into small spears for roasting. Toss them with 2 tablespoon oil and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper and roast for about 15 minutes. Ok, if you want to take this to a whole new level, try browning the butter before adding it to the pasta.
- 1 pound fresh asparagus spears
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon light or dark brown sugar
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Snap the tough ends off the asparagus and discard them. Cut the asparagus spears into 1-inch pieces. Put the asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the oil and ¼ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ of the pepper. Roast until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- While the asparagus roasts, put the vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until the vinegar is reduced to about 3 tablespoons, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar and the remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper. Remove from the heat.
- Cook the penne in a large pot of boiling salted water until just done, 11-13 minutes. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Stir in the butter and vinegar mixture. Toss to combine well. Add in the asparagus, Parmesan, and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Serve immediately with additional Parmesan cheese for serving.
Recipe Source: adapted from Food and Wine Quick From Scratch Pasta Cookbook