For me, a bowl of pasta is the ultimate comfort food. It reminds me of growing up and family dinners. Nothing really beats my mum's pasta, whether it's spag bol, creamy lemon bow ties, a simple tomato sauce, oil and garlic - when her pasta is infront of me, I know I'll have a fantastically satifying dinner. One reason I do love this Italian beauty, is it's easy to adapt to the seasons - a little heavier sauce in the winter and a fresh tomoto and garlic one in the summer. You can enjoy this year round, playing with seasonal ingredients.
There are some really great pasta "substitutes" out there, and often I use brown rice versions, or other gluten free varieties. But becuase I don't HAVE to avoid gluten, and do like to treat myself - sometimes, the real Italian deal is the only acceptable option. That being said, this dish can be enjoyed on any pasta or grain of your choice. But today, for me, it's back to the basics.
Asparagus is a wonderful spring vegetable which adds some great health benefits to this, and any other dish. It's pack with anti-inflammatory nutrients, as well as vitamin K and folate. It's low in calories and fat; and the last thing I'll mention - it contains the anti-oxidant glutathione which is thought to slow the aging process and help protect your skin. Need I say more??
If you don't eat meat or don't fancy it on this particular day, simple, just replace the prosciutto with mushrooms. It's also a winning combo!
serves 3-4 (generous portions)
1 box of pasta (your choice entirely)
2 tbs butter or oil
3 shallots or 1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup of white wine
1/2 - 3/4 bunch of asparagus, ends taken off, cut into 1/2" pieces
handful of spinach - chopped (optional)
5 slices of proscuitto - thinly sliced
1 tsp dried thyme
1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese (or more if you fancy, and a few tbs extra for garnish)
chopped parsley - garnish
salt and pepper to taste
chili flakes to taste - optional
Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Salt your water and cook pasta as per directions on box. (make sure to reserve a bit of the cooking water when you drain the pasta) Bring a small sauce pan of water to the boil and drop the chopped asparagus in for 2 minutes, drain, and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.
Melt 1 tbs of oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Add the diced shallots or onions and allow to cook for a few minutes, careful not to burn. Add the garlic & thyme and cook for a few minutes more. Add the white wine and allow to simmer on low until most of the wine has evaporated. Add the proscuitto and allow to cook for a few minutes. Add the asparagus and spinach, the cooked pasta, 1 tbs of butter or oil, and a bit of the water cooking water. Use tongs or a pasta ladel to combine and allow to heat everything through on low heat. Add the parmesan cheese and mix again. You can add more butter or oil if the pasta is looking dry. Salt and pepper to taste. Plate the pasta and sprinkle with parsley and chili flakes if you want a little kick. Enjoy with a glass of vino!