Wish Upon A Dish: Pasta with Asparagus, Prosciutto and a Balsamic Glaze

December 26, 2011

Pasta with Asparagus, Prosciutto and a Balsamic Glaze

Continuing with my food rescue recipes, tonight's feature presentation is a unique list of ingredients that not many would put together. If you want a quick healthy pasta to carry you through shopping for all those after-Christmas sales, try this dish.

Asparagus, balsamic glaze, lemon juice, onions, red pepper flakes and Romano cheese. Yes, I added the prosciutto.
Hey, I had a few slices from Christmas dinner.

It fits the requirements. Easy to prepare and quick to cook. I takes longer to make the glaze and boil the water then to make this dish. Luckily, I always have a balsamic glaze in my pantry, so all I need to do is chop and drop.

I imagine if you did not want to make a trip to the store (I am avoiding the stores myself, right now), you could use artichoke hearts in place of the asparagus. The important ingredient is the balsamic glaze.
Simmer a bottle of vinegar to 1/4 cup, about 20 minutes. I drop in a bay leaf, some whole peppercorns and a clove or two.

If you do not have Balsamic vinegar to make the glaze, I would simmer down 1 cup apple juice with a tablespoon of white wine vinegar until the consistency of a syrup.

Campanelli with Asparagus, Basil, and Balsamic Glaze
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated, March 1, 2003
Serves 2.

Why this recipe works:

Well aware that most vegetarian pasta recipes feature a flavorless, boring pile of starch, randomly studded with bland vegetables and topped with a mound of low-quality grated cheese, we set out to develop a vegetarian pasta recipe with big and intense flavors that would also be easy to make. The keys to our best vegetarian pasta recipe turned out to be sautéing asparagus and other vegetables to deepen their flavors and using restraint with a balance of salty, sweet, and sour ingredients in order to let the asparagus flavor shine.

Campanelli is a frilly trumpet-shaped pasta. If you cannot find it, fusilli works well. Take care not to over reduce the vinegar, or it will become bitter.

* 1 tablespoon table salt (for pasta water)
* 1/2 teaspoon table salt
* 2 cups dried campanelli
* 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 1/2 pound asparagus, bottom 1-inch trimmed and discarded, spears halved lengthwise if larger than 1/2-inch in diameter and cut into 1-inch lengths
* 1/2 medium red onion , halved and sliced 1/8-inch thick (about 1 1/2 cups)
* 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
* 1/4cup chopped fresh basil
* 2 teaspoons lemon juice
* 1/2 cup shaved Pecorino Romano

1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in stockpot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta, stir to separate, and cook until al dente. Drain and return to pot.
2. Just before putting pasta in boiling water, bring balsamic vinegar to boil in 8-inch skillet over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium and simmer slowly until syrupy and reduced to 1/4 cup, 15 to 20 minutes.
3. While pasta is cooking and balsamic is reducing, heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until beginning to smoke. Add asparagus, onion, black pepper, pepper flakes, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir to combine; cook, without stirring, until asparagus begins to brown, about 1 minute, then stir and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is tender-crisp, about 4 minutes longer. Add asparagus mixture, basil, lemon juice, 1/2 cup Pecorino, and remaining 3 tablespoons oil to pasta in stockpot; toss to combine. Serve immediately, drizzling 1 to 2 teaspoons balsamic glaze over individual servings and passing remaining 1/2 cup Pecorino separately.

Review: If you are looking for a light but very flavorful pasta dish, this is the one for you. A great dish after all those holiday goodies.

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