Spring Pan-Roasted Asparagus with Lemon over Farro Fettuccine
by Caroline Fennessy Campion of Devil and Egg
I love to make this dish when asparagus hits the stores, and it blends perfectly with the flavors of lemon, olive oil, and nutty pecorino cheese. I got the idea of pan-roasting asparagus from the wonderful Cook’s Illustrated and have done it this way ever since because it turns the spears into an entirely different vegetable: tender, crunchy, and completely delicious. Although we’ve heard a lot lately about the wonders of farro as a grain, I think it’s even better when it’s turned into a pasta. Farro pasta is becoming easier to find in supermarkets and places like Whole Foods. I get mine from my local Italian butcher and now don’t want to use any other kind of pasta – although if you can’t find it then regular fettuccine pasta will do.
- 1 lb. farro fettuccine or any kind of fettuccine
- Olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Salt and pepper
- 2 large bunches of trimmed asparagus (the spears should be not too thick, not too thin, somewhere in the middle)
- Juice and zest of one lemon
- 1 cup of dry bread crumbs
- 1 cup of grated pecorino cheese, additional for serving with the pasta
Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add a small handful of salt and then pasta. Bring water back to a boil and then cook pasta per directions on package until al dente (you want the noodles slightly undercooked, because they will cook a bit more in the skillet with the asparagus).
While water for pasta is boiling, place 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a large deep skillet (that has a lid) over medium heat. Melt the butter, swirling it into the olive oil to blend, then add the asparagus to the skillet in an even layer. (If some overlap that’s okay because you’ll redistribute later.)
Cover the skillet and cook asparagus for 5 minutes uninterrupted. When you lift the lid the spears should look bright green in color. Redistribute the spears so any that were on the edges or on top are now touching the skillet and so that the rest of the spears are getting evenly cooked all over.
Raise the heat to medium-high and season the spears with salt and pepper. Continue cooking until the asparagus becomes tender and starts breaking down, moving them occasionally with tongs so that they are getting brown on all sides (you don’t want them to burn but you do what them to get a bit crispy on the outside and very tender on the inside).
Once they are browned all over, tender, and starting to fall apart, lower the heat and add the lemon zest. Gently toss the spears and leave them in the pan on low.
Before draining the pasta, reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Add the drained pasta directly to the skillet with the asparagus. Raise the heat to medium and add pecorino cheese directly on top of pasta. Toss the pasta further, adding 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lemon juice, and enough pasta cooking water to make a loose sauce. Add more cooking water if you want a looser sauce.
Once the pasta, asparagus, and sauce have come together, serve in bowls and sprinkle with breads crumbs and additional pecorino, if you’d like.
For more of Caroline’s recipes on Babble, visit The Family Kitchen!