2 lb medium thick asparagus, cut in 1 inch pieces
1 bunch of scallions, cut in thin rounds
Finely grated zest from 2 lemons
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon of dried or ¾ tsp of ground thyme = 3 sprigs fresh
Sea salt & black pepper
1 tblspn unsalted butter
1 tblspn flour
1 cup whole milk
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1 cup grated Parmigiano
Generous pinch of ground allspice
Small pinch of cayenne
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 lb fresh fettucine
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
~Heat oven to 450. Lightly coat a 9x13 baking dish/casserole with olive oil. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add asparagus & blanch until tender, about 2 minutes. Drain in colander, run under cold water to keep green color. Set aside. If you want to you can scoop the asparagus from the water, leaving it boiling so it's ready for the pasta. Or you can prep the asparagus earlier in the day like I did.
~In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Saute scallions for 1 minute. Add asparagus & saute for 1 minute. Take skillet off heat & add half lemon zest, the lemon juice, thyme, salt & pepper; mix well.
~In a saucepan, heat butter & flour over medium heat, whisking constantly for 1 minute. Add milk, still whisking, until it comes to a boil. Lower the heat a bit & cook until smooth & lightly thickened, 3-4 minutes.
~Turn off heat & add the mascarpone, the remaining lemon zest, & 1/2 cup of Parmigiano, whisking until mixture is smooth. Season with allspice, cayenne, salt & pepper.
~In small bowl, combine breadcrumbs & remaining Parmigiano. Season with salt & pepper & add a drizzle of olive oil. Mix well.
~Cook the fettucine leaving it slightly undone. Drain & return to cooking pot. Add the mascarpone sauce, the pine nuts, & the asparagus with all its juices. Toss & taste for seasoning. Pour into the baking dish & sprinkle breadcrumb mixture evenly over top.
~Bake uncovered 15-20 minutes. Serve immediately.
Enjoy with a glass of white wine!
My Thoughts: this wasn't hard to prepare but also not your regular throw together pasta meal. It's perfect for a weekend dinner and well worth the effort. It was sinful without all the sin because it was not laden down with too much alfredo or the usual creamy sauces.