This classic pasta dish is an easy way to show off the flavours of spring and fill Half Your Plate with lots of delicious asparagus. The super-simple sauce and streamlined method lets you cook the veggies and pasta at the same time. You’ll love the tangy bright flavours and watching bowls empty all around you!
Yield: Serves 6
2 tablespoons of butter
1 minced onion
4 minced garlic cloves
3 tablespoons of flour
1 cup of milk
1/2 teaspoon of salt
freshly ground pepper
a 5-ounce package of any Boursin cheese
1 pound (450 g) of penne or your favorite pasta
2 bunches of asparagus, tough bottoms trimmed away and stalks cut into bite-size lengths
The juice and zest of 2 lemons
The leaves and tender stems from one bunch of fresh tarragon, minced or 1 tablespoon dried
Fill your largest pot with lots of water and lots of salt and position over lots of heat. Bring to a full, furious boil and begin the sauce while you wait.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium–high heat then sauté the onion and garlic until their textures soften and their flavours brighten, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat and sprinkle the flour over the works. Stir until the flour is absorbed by the butter forming a paste. Pour in the milk, season with salt and pepper and stir constantly until the mixture thickens into a smooth sauce. Stir in the Boursin until it melts into the sauce. Stir in the tarragon and lemon. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
When you’re ready stir the pasta into the boiling water. Cook for 6 minutes than stir in the asparagus. Return to the simmer and cook until the pasta is tender and chewy, another 5 minutes or so. Drain the works but not quite all the way, leave the noodles slightly wet.
Return the wet pasta and vegetables to the pot. Stir in the sauce evenly coating the works with the sauce. Serve and share!
One of the secrets to this dish is lots of asparagus. Just as much veggie as pasta. It’s half the dish not just a garnish. The cook-with-the-pasta method works for most other green vegetables too. You can easily substitute broccoli, green beans, baby spinach or kale for the asparagus. Just use lots and use your best timing judgment so the veggie and pasta finish together. You’re not limited to tarragon either. Feel free to try basil, dill or thyme instead!
© Chef Michael Smith 2017 – #HalfYourPlate
Parsnips are a root vegetable, the way a plant stores sunshine as sugar. They keep well which makes them a traditional winter vegetable. Their sweet earthy flavour and firm texture means they’re great for slow cooking, especially when they absorb the flavours of a delicious glaze along the way. Parsnips are a great way to fill Half Your Plate with root vegetable goodness.
Pumpkins are not just for carving into pretty faces they’re vegetables, so you can eat them too! As members of the squash family they’re deliciously versatile, inexpensive and packed with nutrients. Your best choice for cooking though are not the various jack-o-lantern varieties, they tend to be too big and bland. Instead, try this simple yet stunning idea with a few mini decorative pumpkins during harvest. With all this seasonal flavour they’re a great way to fill Half Your Plate!