Pasta con asparagi Umbria
Preparation - Easy
In Umbria where we lived for several years, spring was special for many reasons, chief among them, the wild asparagus. Ottorino, our grounds helper and friend would take off, his feet clad in high rubber boots, a stick at the ready - to kill the 'vipere', the vipers - returning with a huge bunch of wild asparagus. He did not always offer to share the asparagus so I started going along with him on the hunt.At first I would regularly miss them - Ottorino would reach down right in front of me - "ecco signora, un'altra" - here's another. Before long I was nearly as good at it as Ottorino. It was a treasure hunt, glimpsing them peeking out from between stones, rocks, under oak leaves, and once in a while, right there in the open, beckoning. We became possessive of areas that held especially generous pickings. I would return, an hour or two later, with bunches of wild asparagus with which I made enough sauce to freeze, to share with our sons during the summer vacation and with very special guests.Like hunting, it was a free for all and even our postman Amadeo delivered the mail a little late during asparagus season.
This sauce has a very delicate flavor when made with cultivated asparagus, but is more strongly flavored when using wild asparagus, which is quite thin and unlike the cultivated kind.
1 lb asparagus, tips and tender stalks, washed and broken into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
6 T olive oil or butter
1 sprig fresh oregano, leaves chopped, or 1/4 t dried oregano
Red chili pepper, to taste (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb tagliatelle, spaghetti or spaghettini
Grated Parmesan, optional
Pasta pot, frying pan.
LIGHTLY brown the garlic and chili pepper in oil or butter over medium heat.
ADD the asparagus, the oregano, salt and pepper to taste and 2 or 3 tablespoons of water.
SIMMER on medium-low heat till asparagus is cooked through. Add more water if necessary; do not let it dry out.
MEANWHILE, cook the pasta. When done, drain, reserving a 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.
TRANSFER to a warm bowl.Check for seasoning and if you wish add a tablespoon of cooking liquid at a time till desired moisture is achieved.