Sunday, April 29, 2007

Creamy Asparagus Pasta Sauce

This one became a favorite as soon as I developed it. It is such a delicate, lovely pasta sauce for spring. It needs no embellishment; I was tempted to try it with smoked salmon once and ham once, but the sauce is too subtle for these additions and gets lost. Enjoy as is!

2 and ½ cups chicken stock (or veg stock)
1 kg (2.2 pounds) asparagus, woody ends trimmed and discarded, the rest cut into 1 inch pieces—saving the tips aside and slicing them in half lengthwise
1 medium shallot, minced
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon corn starch
¼ cup cold water
3 tablespoons cream cheese
1 tablespoon butter
Parmesan cheese

1) Bring chicken stock to a boil, add minced shallot and reduce heat.
2) Add the asparagus pieces (not the tips) and bring just to a strong simmer. Simmer for 8 minutes until quite tender but still green.
3) Remove asparagus from stock with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl. Bring stock back to a boil, add tips and simmer for 6 minutes until just tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside in a separate bowl.
4) Measure stock in pot—it needs to equal 2 and ½ cups—add water to bring back up to 2 and ½ cups. Bring back to a simmer.
5) Shake corn starch in a jar with ¼ cup cold water and add mixture to simmering stock. Whisk until simmering and thickened. Add lemon zest.
6) Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in cream cheese and butter—whisk well to incorporate.
7) Add in asparagus pieces (not tips) and puree either in a blender or transfer to a food processor. Process until smooth.
8) Adjust seasoning, it may need salt, and add in the asparagus tips.

Serve over hot pasta and toss with Parmesan cheese and freshly cracked black pepper

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