Rachel Roddy’s recipe for spaghetti with asparagus, butter and lemon | Pasta

A 10cm x 10cm wood sq. with a big gap crossed with wire strings: it could possibly be a tiny harp if it didn’t even have one other set of 12 strings that cross the primary, forming a mesh. Even so, it may be strummed with an extended nail, the fundamental strum audible, for those who get in shut. Its precise goal is for slicing puntarelle, the internal tubes of a wide range of chicory known as cicoria di catalogna or cicoria asparago (asparagus chicory). A late winter-to-early spring vegetable, succulent puntarelle, with its asparagus-like ideas, or punte, is a well-liked salad in Lazio, so the fundamental, nifty and low-cost sq. cutters (tagliapuntarelle) are frequent and straightforward to return by in {hardware} shops. And far as puntarelle migrates and thrives in soil all over, so do the cutters. After all, you don’t want a cutter; a knife works simply as properly, solely extra slowly.

I additionally know a number of individuals who have made themselves a tagliapuntarelle, impressed by the bigger cutters you generally see on market stalls: wood containers or frames strung with wire. Huge or small, it’s a fantastically satisfying software, the crisp tubes of chicory slicing like butter into skinny strips, or, if you wish to maintain the ideas intact, puntarelle octopi! And it isn’t just for puntarelle: celery, courgettes and pink pepper work on this software, too; giant greens changed into fats strings in two musical seconds.

Final week, whereas I do know I can’t be the primary to have carried out so, I did really feel like a genius once I pushed asparagus by way of the mesh. I took off the ideas first, in order to not offend them, however later questioned if they might undergo, too. Asparagus stems are much more satisfying than puntarelle, as a result of they sail by way of the wires and splay out like straight tentacles roughly the identical proportions as spaghetti. Which is why, if the strips are wilted down in oil and given loads of butter and lemon zest, they pair so properly with spaghetti, for what’s a two-tone pleasure and possibly my favorite recipe up to now this 12 months.

As all the time, the ultimate stirring is essential. It’s when the pasta, asparagus, starch, fats and pan juices mix and the whole lot comes collectively, so don’t be afraid to swish the pan and stir vigorously. I might additionally wish to apologise vigorously for happening a couple of kitchen gadget that most individuals gained’t have. Which is why this column can be an advert for the assorted makers of this good-value object and, extra importantly, calls to anybody able to stringing wire or adapting devices. I’m additionally interested by commissioning a bigger mannequin, for each outsized courgettes and strumming follow.

Spaghetti with asparagus, butter and lemon

Serves 4

1 x giant bunch asparagus (about 250g)
3-4 spring onions
4 tbsp olive oil
450g spaghetti
40g butter
Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon, plus 2 tbsp lemon juice

Trim the tip of the asparagus as you like: snap off the woody ends or pare away the woody components with a potato-peeler. Lower off the ideas, then lower the spears lengthways into skinny strings as shut in measurement to spaghetti as you may. Trim the spring onions, then slice the bulbs into arcs and the inexperienced components into quick lengths.

You wish to coordinate the cooking in order that each the greens, which take about 10 minutes to melt, are prepared concurrently the spaghetti, which, relying on the model, can take something from seven to 11 minutes, so drop the spaghetti into salted boiling water accordingly.

Whereas the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a big frying pan set over a medium-low warmth, soften the spring onions for a minute, then add the asparagus and a pinch of salt, and prepare dinner, stirring, till it wilts; carry over a ladleful of the pasta cooking water, all cloudy with starch, to assist it alongside – as soon as cooked, the asparagus needs to be smooth with just a bit juice. Stir within the butter, lemon juice and zest.

Drain the pasta (or raise it instantly into the asparagus combine), then toss and swish vigorously for a minute or so, or till the whole lot combines. Serve instantly, with grated parmesan for many who need it.

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