Friday, April 13, 2012

spicy lemon pasta with roasted asparagus

A few years ago, when I was pregnant with Fletcher, our neighbors kindly invited me over for dinner while Brian was away on a business trip.  They probably took pity on me because I was at that point in my pregnancy where I either had to stand sideways or 3 feet away from the stove to stir a pot.  My neighbor made a spicy, lemony, creamy fettuccine that was so delicious, I think I tried licking my plate.  And then I may have finished off their toddler's leftovers, too.  It was amazing.  And I think she gave me that recipe at one point, but I don't have the original recipe.  But I'll share with you my version, which includes roasted asparagus.  If you feel like making a lick-your-plate-clean pasta, you'll need the following:

1 pound fettuccine (or linguine, or spaghetti)
12-15 asparagus spears
2 lemons
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion
3 T olive oil
3/4 cup evaporated milk (or heavy cream)
1/2 cup grated fontina
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
(optional garnish of fresh basil- not used here)
serves 4

Preheat your oven to 375.  Wash your asparagus and snap off the tough ends.  Throw them in a bowl, and squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lemon on top, and drizzle with 1 T of olive oil.  Toss lightly to coat.
Spread asparagus on a foil-lined pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Roast the asparagus in the oven for about a half an hour, stirring half-way through.  While it's roasting, saute your garlic and pepper flakes in olive oil.  Slice your onion thinly, and add it to the garlic and pepper flakes, adding more oil if necessary.
Juice and zest your remaining lemons.  I apparently put my micro planer somewhere very safe, because I tore my kitchen apart looking for it.  I did not find it.  Boo.  So I had to use my vegetable peeler to zest the lemon, and that actually worked a lot better than I had thought it would.  I only zested one of the lemons, but if you really like an extra lemon flavor, zest away on the second lemon!
Zest first, juice second.  Just to be easy about it. 
Put your pot on to boil.  Once there's a nice rolling boil, add your pasta.  I'm sorry if I just insulted your intelligence by writing that last sentence.
Grate your cheese.  I also used my vegetable peeler on my cheese because my cheese grater was dirty and I was too lazy to wash it.  Story of my life.  Always some cheese to grate, and never a clean grater.
I mixed the fontina and Parmesan together.  If you'd prefer to just use Parmesan, that will work, too!  Fontina just melts beautifully, so I really love to use it in pasta dishes.  Now add your milk and lemon juice to the onion/garlic mixture.  You can use heavy cream if you want a super delicious pasta.  My pants are about to go on strike after Easter, so I used skim evaporated milk.  It has a creamy texture without the fat.  But not the extreme creamy texture of, uh, cream. 
Grab a ladle of pasta water out of your boiling fettuccine, and add that to the onion/garlic mixture, too. 
Bring your mixture to a light boil, and sprinkle in a few shakes extra of the pepper flakes if you like it extra spicy.  I do like it extra spicy. 
I regret it the next day, but whatever.  Live for today, people!!  Worry about your digestive tract tomorrow!  Carpe Diem!  Drain your fettuccine when it is al dente, and add it to your delicious sauce.
Add in the cheese.  Stir until melted.
Add in your asparagus and serve it up!  You can cut your asparagus into chunks and stir it in, but I like to leave them in stalks and heap them on top of the pasta.  Oh!  And I like to add some more Parmesan right on top.
Because cheese is good.
Asparagus is just coming into season around here, so you can get some beautiful bunches!  Hope you enjoy this pasta enough to lick that plate clean.  Go on.  I won't judge.


  1. This is right up my ally. Can't wait to give it a try, thanks for sharing it!

  2. A) Yum as always
    B) I wanted to let you know that I've chosen you for a Liebster blog award. I just adore your blog {as you have no doubt noticed} so it was a very easy choice!

    You can pick up the picture & read about it here:

    And thank you for your wonderful blog!

  3. Mmmmmm, Are you fixing this one for me?

  4. I am lovin' the combo of pasta and asparagus. And I am following you, on the advice of Tabetha at The Closet Intellectual. :)

  5. This looks delicious! New follower:)

  6. This sounds delicious with the addition of lemon - a lovely light summer dish!

  7. Oh yum - I LOVE asparagus! :-)

  8. Hi there, this is a really nice post about asparagus. It would be great if you linked to it in my Food on Friday series. This week it is about all things asparagus. Food on Friday


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