This is such a wonderful way to enjoy spring asparagus and homemade cheese! The flavors and textures combine so well, you won’t believe how simple it is to make. This recipe is one that represents the principles of the D.I.Y. kitchen perfectly. Store-bought pasta and store-bought ricotta would make a fine dish, but not transformative, as this is.
Time required: 15 minutes active (excluding butter, cheese, and pasta preparation)
Yield: 4 to 5 servings
- 1 bunch (about ¾ pound) fresh, in-season medium asparagus
- 2 tablespoons Cultured Butter or store-bought butter, softened
- ½ pound Fresh Whole-Milk Soft Cheese drained to a moist, slightly crumbly texture
- 3 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs (parsley, mint, chervil, savory, marjoram—anything you like)
- 1 lemon for zesting
- 1 pound Fresh Pasta or store-bought whole-wheat fettuccini
- Freshly ground black pepper
Grasp one end of each asparagus spear in each hand and bend until it snaps at its natural breaking point. Discard (or compost) the lower fibrous ends. Cut the remaining parts of the spears into bite-sized pieces.
In a vegetable steamer, steam the asparagus until tender but still vibrant green, 2 to 3 minutes. Submerge it in ice water to stop the cooking, drain, and pat dry. Set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, put the softened butter in bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients, and have the cheese, chopped herbs, and lemon ready, as this dish comes together quickly.
Add the fresh pasta to the boiling water and cook until it is tender but still chewy, 2 to 3 minutes (if using store-bought pasta, follow package instructions).
Drain immediately, do not rinse, and add the pasta to the bowl with the butter. Toss to coat the pasta, and then add the cooked asparagus, cheese, and herbs to the hot pasta. Toss and season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the pasta to plates. Using a Microplane, or the small holes of a cheese grater, grate lemon zest over each serving and top with a few grindings of fresh pepper. Serve immediately.