Almond butter crisp
- 1 head garlic, roasted, removed from skin (see Technique 101)
- 3 ounces butter, at room temperature
- ¼ cup dry bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup toasted sliced almonds
- 1 pound dried linguine
- 1 pound asparagus, trimmed, cut on bias into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 8 ounces baby arugula, stemmed
- 2 tablespoons julienned preserved lemon
- 2 tablespoons chiffonade of fresh mint
1 To make the crisp: In a small bowl, mix together the roasted garlic, butter, bread crumbs, Parmesan, salt, and pepper flakes. Carefully fold in the nuts, trying not to crush them. Cover and refrigerate until hardened.
2 To make the pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the linguine in the boiling water and cook until al dente, 7 to 9 minutes, or according to the package directions. Reserve 1⁄3 cup of the cooking water before draining the pasta. Drain and rinse the pasta and reserve.
3 Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then the asparagus and saute until the asparagus is bright green, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then add the broth, soy sauce, and the 1⁄3 cup reserved pasta water. Simmer to reduce the liquid by half. Add the pasta, arugula, lemon, and mint, tossing to coat them with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
4 Heat a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the almond crisp and cook until it has started to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour half of the butter into the pasta, tossing to coat. Transfer the pasta to a serving platter or plates, then garnish with the remaining almond crisp.
There are plenty of ways to roast garlic, but my favorite way (and maybe the easiest) is to take a whole head, trim off the top quarter-inch to expose the cloves, place it on a sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, fold the foil up like a little pouch, transfer to a 400-degree oven, and roast until deep brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Once it’s cooled a bit, you can squeeze the cloves out from their skins. The sweet, caramelly garlic flavor is so good you can spread it directly onto crusty bread and eat it all by itself, but also feel free to mash it into potatoes, puree it into vinaigrettes, or use it anywhere you want a complex hit of garlic.
Sparkling wines have a certain nutty element that would be perfect to play up the almond crisp here. Also, a light and mild bubbly will do a nice job of letting the asparagus do its own thing without getting in the way.
Serves 4 to 8.
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Excerpted from Girl in the Kitchen by Stephanie Izard, Copyright 2011. Photography Copyright 2011 Dan Goldberg. Excerpted from Chronicle Books. All rights reserved.