GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Lifestyle

April 8, 2013

Color your pasta with fresh asparagus

The spring vegetable, of course, is asparagus. As the first spears break through the cold ground, we know that spring is here.

Asparagus season is short, running usually from mid-April through May, so enjoy it while you can.

Asparagus freezes well. I blanche it for 3 minutes in boiling water, place it in an ice water bath (to stop the cooking), drain well, and place in freezer bags.

My favorite way to eat asparagus is to roast it. Wash and dry fresh asparagus; lightly brush a baking pan with olive oil and place the asparagus in a single layer, turning to coat with the oil. If you like, sprinkle with a little garlic salt or just salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees until it is as tender and as soft as you like.

Another easy way to enjoy asparagus is by toasting 1-inch slices of French bread, brushing it with olive oil, and placing a few roasted asparagus spears on the toast. Then season as you like and top with Fontina cheese. Place under a broiler to heat and melt the cheese. This is perfect for a lunch, or you can add it to a salad for a light supper.

Here’s a delicious asparagus recipe I like to make.

Rigatoni with Shrimp & Asparagus

Makes 4-5 servings

Ingredients

16 extra-large shrimp (peeled)

10 ounces Rigatoni (approximately three-quarter-pound box)

1 bunch fresh asparagus; cleaned and cut on the diagonal in 2 inch pieces

2 Tablespoons chopped onion

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 cup white wine

1 cup chicken broth (2 cups if NOT using wine)

2 teaspoons butter

One-half teaspoon of each salt and black pepper

4 thin slices of lemon

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Cook rigatoni in boiled and salted water for 5 minutes (will cook in all for 12 minutes). Heat olive oil and chopped onions in another large pan on the stove, cooking until golden brown. When browned, pour wine in if using and let it cook for 4 minutes. Add chicken broth, slices of lemon and butter, salt and pepper, letting cook for a few minutes. Then toss in the shrimp and asparagus, making sure to cook the shrimp 2 minutes per side. Add drained rigatoni. Let cook until rigatoni is al dente and asparagus tender. Serve with grated cheese.

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Patricia Altomare invites your letters; patakitchen@yahoo.com or Gloucester Daily Times, 36 Whittemore St., Gloucester, MA 01930

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