Lately, with a 9 month old crawling all over the house, I’ve been turning to easy, fast and delicious ways to use the best of the fresh produce that is now coming in. Something that doubles as comfort food is also most welcome at the end of a hectic day of keeping Lady A out of trouble. So, I have been making the following dish on repeat. It is a celebration of asparagus, one of my favorite vegetables and cheese & pasta, a hard-to-turn-down combination. Once you’ve mastered tempering the egg yolk to make the sauce, it really couldn’t be simpler to throw together in half an hour.
2 strips bacon
1 bunch asparagus
1 egg yolk
¾ cup grated parmesan
½ lb capellini or other long pasta
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add a small handful of salt to water.
Cut asparagus on the diagonal, approximately 1 inch long, leaving tips intact and discarding tough ends of stalks.
Cut bacon into 1 inch wide lardons and render the fat of the bacon over medium low heat in a large sauté pan. Add the asparagus to the sauté pan and cook until just beginning to turn tender and bright green.
Meanwhile, cook the capellini until slightly more al dente than you want it to be when finished. Add the al dente pasta to the sauté pan with the asparagus mixture along with about a cup of the pasta water and cook a minute or two more until the pasta is perfectly al dente and the asparagus is tender.
While the pasta is cooking in the sauté pan, whisk a bit (about ½ cup) of the hot pasta water into a small bowl with the egg yolk to temper the yolk. Turn the heat off from under the sauté pan and add the egg yolk mixture into the pasta, stirring and mixing constantly until everything is evenly coated. Add a bit more pasta water to get a saucy consistency. Add most of the parmesan (reserving some to sprinkle on top of the finished dish) to the pan and stir into the sauce, tossing the pasta to coat. If the sauce needs to be thinned a bit, add more pasta water, keeping in mind that the pasta will continue to absorb the liquid while it is hot (so it should be slightly runnier than you want it to be when you put it on the table). Season with a generous grind of black pepper and a bit more salt, if necessary (taste first as the bacon, pasta water and parmesan add salt on their own).
Divide the pasta into bowls and sprinkle with the reserved grated parmesan. Serve immediately, while still hot.
Serves 2 as a main dish; 3 or 4 as a side dish.