March 20 was the first day of spring, and ‘it’s the season for our favorite veggie – asparagus, with its long, slender green stalks that deliver a powerful punch of potassium, fiber, vitamins A and C, with no fat and no cholesterol. Sign us up.
Celebrity Chef Donna Scala keeps watch over the kitchen at La Luce restaurant at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, and recently shared this easy springtime recipe with us.
We adore the balance of the asparagus with al dente pasta and chewy mushrooms in Chef Donna’s recipe. If you can’t find porcinis, the recipe is just fine without them.
Farfalle con funghi e asparagi
Serves 6 to 8
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound assorted mushrooms, preferably wild
1/4 cup diced shallots
1/2 pound asparagus, sliced on the diagonal
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
Coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound farfalle pasta
Grated pecorino cheese, for garnish
Soak dried mushrooms in boiling-hot water in a bowl until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain in a paper-towel-lined sieve set over a bowl, then rinse soaked mushrooms. Pat dry and finely chop.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; stir in olive oil. Stir in mushrooms and shallots, and sauté for about 5 minutes or until liquid from mushrooms evaporates and mushrooms are browned. Add asparagus, thyme and garlic; sauté for 1 minute.
Stir in white wine and loosen bits of food from bottom of pan. Add chicken stock and season with salt and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta al dente in boiling salted water. Drain in a colander and add to sauce. Serve immediately with grated cheese.
Diva confession: Did you know that asparagus is a member of the lily family? When buying, look for firm, bright green stalks with tight tips, and cook as soon as you buy, though it will keep a few days in the fridge tightly wrapped in plastic. If the stems are tough, use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer layer. Asparagus plants live eight to 10 years, and the spear’s size indicated the age of the plant (the more mature the plant, the thicker the asparagus).