Recipe: Pasta bezza
- 1 pound fresh egg pasta sheets or store-bought
- 2 pounds asparagus
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon sliced garlic
- Sea salt, preferably gray salt, or kosher salt
- 3/4 pound robiola, cana de oveja, or other soft ripened cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper
1 Cut the pasta sheets into about 3 dozen 4-by-6-inch rectangles. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
2 Bend each asparagus spear until it breaks naturally at the point where the spear becomes tough. Discard the tough ends. Cut the asparagus on the bias into 2-inch pieces.
3 In a large sauté pan, combine the water, olive oil, thyme, and garlic. Season with salt. Add just enough asparagus to the pan as can fit in a single layer. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium heat, reducing the heat as necessary to keep it at a simmer. Cook the asparagus until crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Using tongs, transfer the asparagus to a plate and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining asparagus.
4 When the pasta water boils, add the pasta and cook for 3 minutes or according to the package directions; drain. Transfer the cooked pasta to a serving dish and drizzle with some of the pan juices from the asparagus, tossing the sheets with tongs to keep them from sticking to each other. Top with the braised asparagus and about half of the soft cheese. Allow 1 or 2 minutes for the cheese to melt over the pasta, then top with a generous amount of black pepper. Serve the remaining cheese at the table for guests who'd like more (and most will).
Chef's note: Have everyone at the table ready to eat before you add the cheese to the pasta. You want to have it on the plates in front of them while the cheese is still melting.
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Excerpted from Michael Chiarello's Bottega by Michael Chiarello, Ann Krugger Spivack and Claudia Sansone. Copyright © 2010 by Michael Chiarello, Ann Krugger Spivack and Claudia Sansone . Photo Copyright © 2010 by Frankie Frankeny. Excerpted by permission of Chronicle Books. All rights reserved.