Quick, before that asparamagus goes out of season make this pasta!
Anyone who knows me knows that I prefer to roast my asparagus at 370 some odd degrees with olive oil and salt and pepper and eat it like French fries and call it a night. But anyone who really knows me also knows that I am always trying to come up with some sort of pasta dish that involves asparagus and lemons.
Examples abound, on blogs and throughout the Alice Waters section of my cookbook shelf (including this one from smittenkitchen, which I love, but which never seems to knock anyone else’s socks off when I make it…plus it has tarragon in it, and there are some pretty serious anti-tarragon elements amongst my general acquaintance) and so every year when asparagus comes back I try again. I think I’ve got it this time. The secret: browned butter, tart yogurt and sage.
Anny’s Asparagus and Lemon Butter Pasta
Half a pound of penne
A pound of asparagus, snapped into penne-sized bits
Half a cup of browned butter (shhhh don’t think about it)
2 T goat cheese
1/2 cup tart yogurt, preferably not your trendy 0% fat Greek yogurt but real plain unflavored whole milk yogurt that has not had its delicious cream element removed. It is so hard to find this kind of yogurt nowadays it’s bewildering. And all the companies are so tricksy now that the only way I can tell what kind of yogurt is in a container is to see whether it has 8 grams of fat or 0 (because there is no in between. Really?). But I digress. Just use some plain yogurt.
Zest of one lemon
Small bunch of sage leaves cut chiffonade
Start by cooking your pasta per instructions. When it is four minutes from being cooked, toss in your asparagus bits. When done, drain and set aside.
In the meantime, put the butter and sage in a large saute pan and brown the butter on medium low heat (the butter will heat, foam, clarify, then get brown and give off an amazing nutty smell).
Remove from heat and allow to cool for a while. Add the goat cheese, yogurt, and zest, stir in, and return to low heat. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the sauce over the pasta & asparagus and stir well.