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Asparagus With Toasted Bread Crumbs, Lemon, And Garlic

In southern Italy economical cooks use toasted bread crumbs instead of expensive Parmesan cheese to enliven simple pasta dishes, especially those with strong components like lemon and garlic that don't always marry well with cheese. For this recipe, try making your own bread crumbs from leftover bread -- just grind stale bread in a food processor and keep the crumbs in the refrigerator or freezer.

Type: Pasta, Vegetables
Courses: Main Course
Serves: 4 people

Recipe Ingredients

2 lbs 908g / 32ozAsparagus
1/3 cup 48g / 1.7ozPlain bread crumbs
1/2 cup 118mlOlive oil
4 cups 372g / 13ozGarlic cloves - minced (medium)
1/4 cup 23g / 0.8ozMinced fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup 59mlLemon juice
1 teaspoon 5mlSalt
1 lb 454g / 16ozPasta - such as spaghetti or other long, shaped pasta

Recipe Instructions

Bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot for cooking the pasta. Snap off the tough ends from the asparagus spears. Cut the spears in half lengthwise (thicker spears should be quartered), then slice them on the bias into 1-inch pieces. Steam the asparagus until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Set the cooked asparagus aside.

Set a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs and toast, shaking the pan occasionally to redistribute the crumbs, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Do not let the bread crumbs burn. Set the toasted bread crumbs aside.

Heat the oil in the empty skillet. Add the garlic and saute over medium heat until lightly colored, about 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley, lemon juice, and salt and cook for 30 seconds. Add the asparagus to the pan and mix well. Taste for salt and adjust seasonings if necessary.

While preparing the sauce, cook and drain the pasta, making sure that some water clings to the noodles. Toss the hot pasta with the asparagus sauce and the toasted bread crumbs. Mix well and transfer portions to warm pasta bowls. Serve immediately.

PASTA E VERDURA by Jack Bishop (c) 1996


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