(by Patricia Fieldsteel)
The key to this recipe is fresh, high-quality ingredients. The cream must be heavy, the butter sweet, the lemons and juice fresh, as well as the asparagus. If you don’t have homemade linguine, use a good boxed brand. My own favorite is DeCecco.
1 lb. fat green asparagus
1 lb. linguine
4 T. unsalted butter
3/4 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3 T. freshly grated lemon zest
1 1/2 t. salt
4 large shallots, thinly sliced and chopped
freshly grated Parmesan cheese (approximately 1/2 c.)
optional: chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or basil or chives or dill
black pepper, freshly ground
optional: fresh bread crumbs or panko, sautéed in butter
Break the asparagus stems at the woody part that's inedible.
Cut off buds on the diagonal and set aside.
With a vegetable peeler, slice thick ribbons of asparagus, and set aside.
Boil 6 quarts of salted water, and add a small amount of olive oil to cook linguine.
During final 3 minutes, add asparagus ribbons.
Drain in colander, reserving 2 c. pasta water.
In a large skillet, melt butter.
Add shallots and cook over low heat until soft and translucent.
Add cream, lemon juice, zest, and salt, stirring.
If sauce is too thick, add pasta water to the desired consistency.
Add asparagus ribbons and linguine, blending to coat with sauce.
Add Parmesan, herbs, fresh-ground black pepper, and salt to taste.
Cook asparagus tips in reserved pasta water for just 1 or 2 minutes.
Garnish pasta with asparagus tips and optional bread crumbs.
Serve with additional Parmesan grated at table.
Serves 4 as a main course.
(Read Crimes in the Family, the story that accompanies this recipe.)