Penne with Asparagus, Mint and Pictachios
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb penne rigate
1/2 lb thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup unsalted pistachios, toasted
2-3 tbsp EVOO
4 tbsp. butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp. flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice or white balsamic vinegar
A handful grated pecoriono-romano, plus more or less to pass around the table.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it after it boils add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water.
While the pasta is working, in a large skillet, bring 2 inches of water to a boil salt it, add the asparagus and cook for 3 minutes. Transfer the asparagus to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking; drain and set aside. Reserve the skillet.
Using a food processor, puree 1/2 cup stock, the mint, parsley, pistachios and EVOO.
In the reserved skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the flour. Stir in the wine and cook until reduced to 2 tbsp. Add the remaining 1 cup stock and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat to low. Stir in the lemon juice (or vinegar). Remove from heat and stir in the pistachio puree.
Add the pasta, asparagus and a handful of cheese to the skillet; toss stirring in the reserved cooking water to thin the consistency if desired. Season with salt and pepper. Pass more cheese at the table.