I was lucky to find slim young asparagus at the Natures Basket Store near home, fresh green spears. I loved the way the Asparagus Pasta looked, with the Fettucine looping around the bright green asparagus and the chunks of broccoli, interspersed with the toasted almonds, the whole coated with the creamy sauce and the basil pesto.
Purple is my favourite colour. As I had this lovely bunch of purple basil, whom else would I turn to for the recipe for Pesto, but Jamie Oliver. I have quite a few of his cookbooks, but I referred this recipe online. I've always found Jamie Oliver's recipes straightforward and easy to make, and this recipe was no exception.
Link to my version of the Recipe for Basil Pesto: Pesto of Purple Basil, Pinenuts & Parmesan
Asparagus, Broccoli, Fettucine Pasta in Basil Pesto and with Toasted Almonds
For the Pasta:
- 2 litres water - for boiling pasta
- 10 asparagus - stalks -
- 70 gms broccoli - florets about - 1 cups
- Ice water - cubes and cold
- 200 gms fettucine
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
For the Sauce:
- 1 cup cream
- 25 gms butter
- 3 tablespoons Basil pesto
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ cup cheddar cheese
For the Garnish:
- 8 - 10 Almonds
- ¼ cup cheddar cheese - grated
- a few basil - Fresh leaves -
- To make the Sauce: (Time to cook: 5 minutes)
- Warm the cream on low flame for about 2-3 minutes. Add the butter, whisk so the butter melts and combines with the cream. Add the pesto, whisk again. Add salt and pepper, stir.
- You could add the cheese now when the sauce is warm, and stir till it melts into the sauce. Remove the sauce from the stove and set in a pot of hot water so it remains warm. Or else, after the vegetables and the pasta are ready, gently warm the sauce and then add the cheese, just before serving.
- To Prepare the Vegetables: (Time Preparation 3 minutes; Cooking 5 minutes)
- Snap off the thick bottom stalks of the asparagus and keep aside for later use such as in soup. Cut the asparagus tips to about an inch or longer, depending on how long the tips are, and set aside. Slice the remaining stalk into rounds.
- Slice the broccoli, retaining the shape of the florets.
- Set a large tall pot or a pasta cooker on the stove, add water and a little salt.
- I used my pasta cooker which has a sieved inner container, so it was easy to lift the vegetables and let the water drain back into the pot, to be used for cooking the pasta. Otherwise just add two cups of water to the pot to blanch the asparagus and broccoli, and after this is done, top up the pot with water as required for boiling the pasta as below.
- To blanch the asparagus and broccoli, bring the water to a boil, add the asparagus rounds and tips, and the florets of broccoli.
- Blanch for 2 minutes as the water continues to boil, and quickly drain and transfer the vegetables to a bowl of cold water into which ice has been added. This will stop the vegetables from cooking further, and help retain their bright green colours. Drain after one minute.
- To Cook the Pasta: (Time: Cooking 8-10 minutes)
- Top up the water in the pot/ pasta cooker, as per pasta package instructions and add salt. The pasta brand I used, recommended 1 litre for every 100 gm of pasta, and 7 gm of salt for each litre.
- Bring the water in the pot back to a rolling boil (boiling all over the pot) and add the fettucine. Cook as per package instructions, stirring frequently. (The brand I used specified 6 minutes, and it was just right when I checked at 6 minutes).
- Turn off the stove when the pasta is done till al dente, and set aside.
- To put the Pasta together: (Time: Preparation 2 minutes; Cooking 5 minutes)
- Slice the almonds. Heat a pan and toast the almonds for 2 minutes stirring continuously and ensuring you remove them from the pan before they begin to char/ blacken.
- Add the oil to the heated pan. Mince and add the garlic or crush directly into the oil. Sauté for a minute.
- Add the vegetables, sauté for 2 minutes.
- If you have not added the cheese to the sauce, do it now as per step 3 above.
- Toss the drained pasta, the vegetables and the sauce together. Garnish with sliced almonds and a few leaves of basil.
- Sprinkle grated cheese and basil leaves and serve hot.