Thursday, September 13, 2012

Quick and Light: Penne with Asparagus and Fresh Basil [Rhonda]

Degree of difficulty: easy
Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Lots of good veggies and fresh flavors make this a go-to recipe for weeknights when you're tired, starving, yet don't want take-out. Frankly, it beats most restaurant pasta dishes if you use homemade chicken stock, but will work fine with canned stock. A green salad and a hunk of crusty bread round out the meal nicely.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of dried crushed red pepper
1/2 pound asparagus, stalks trimmed and cut into 3/4 inch lengths
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup white wine

Several thin slices prosciutto, crisped in a frying pan for a few minutes

8 ounces penne pasta

2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Basil and parsley for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, saute briefly. Add wine, reduce slightly, add stock, asparagus and tomatoes. Cook until asparagus is crisp-tender, 4 minutes or so. Add Parmesan cheese, stir. Add the fresh herbs. Swirl in the tablespoon of butter, taste, and season with salt and pepper.

While sauce is cooking, cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Drain. Return to pot and pour sauce over, stirring. Plate the pasta and garnish with basil, parsley and the crumbled crisped prosciutto.
(I'm sure you see the possibilities with tons of other vegetables--mushrooms, zucchini, snow peas, and/or a quick stir-in of spinach at the last...)

Suggested soundtrack: Phillip Phillip's "Home" (who named him, by the way?) Home by Phillip Phillips on Grooveshark

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