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Asparagus Linguine with Almond Butter Crisp


First Posted: 12/15/2011 1:32 pm Updated: 08/31/2012 10:48 am

Asparagus Linguine with Almond Butter Crisp

Asparagus Linguine with Almond Butter Crisp
Dan Goldberg
Provided by:
total prep
Recipe courtesy of Girl in the Kitchen by Stephanie Izard/Chronicle Books, 2011.

My love of asparagus comes up throughout this book in various forms: tempura battered and fried, shaved raw in a salad, and in this recipe, simply sautéed and taking on the lead role in a great spring pasta dish. Rather than blanching and shocking the spears, in this recipe we simply sauté bite-sized pieces, then let them cook to al dente in a bit of broth and soy so that they soak up some of that flavor while cooking. Now if you’re seeing the words “almond butter crisp” and thinking of a crunchy fruit dessert topping, go the opposite way. This is actually a completely savory compound butter, playing up the nutty almonds with salty grated Parmesan, a touch of heat from chile flakes, and fragrant roasted garlic. It’s awesome served over a simple piece of fish or chicken with some grilled vegetables, or you can skip the protein and just liven up veggies with spiced garlic crunch. Along with taste, texture is the most important component in any dish, and here, the combination of bread crumbs and almonds gives you two for the price of one.
Technique 101: Roasting Garlic There are plenty of ways to roast garlic, but my favorite way (and maybe the easiest) is to take a whole head, trim off the top quarter-inch to expose the cloves, place it on a sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, fold the foil up like a little pouch, transfer to a 400-degree oven, and roast until deep brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Once it’s cooled a bit, you can squeeze the cloves out from their skins. The sweet, caramelly garlic flavor is so good you can spread it directly onto crusty bread and eat it all by itself, but also feel free to mash it into potatoes, puree it into vinaigrettes, or use it anywhere you want a complex hit of garlic.

Ingredients

  • ALMOND BUTTER CRISP
  • 1 head garlic, roasted, removed from skin
  • 3 ounces butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup toasted sliced almonds
  • PASTA
  • 1 batch Basic Pasta, cut into linguine noodles, or 1 pound dried linguine
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed, cut on bias into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 8 ounces baby arugula, stemmed
  • 2 tablespoons julienned preserved lemon
  • 2 tablespoons chiffonade of fresh mint

Directions

  • To make the crisp: In a small bowl, mix together the roasted garlic, butter, bread crumbs, Parmesan, salt, and pepper flakes. Carefully fold in the nuts, trying not to crush them. Cover and refrigerate until hardened.
  • To make the pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the linguine in the boiling water and cook until al dente, 7 to 9 minutes, or according to the package directions. Reserve 1/3 cup of the cooking water before draining the pasta. Drain and rinse the pasta and reserve.
  • Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then the asparagus and sauté until the asparagus is bright green, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then add the broth, soy sauce, and the 1/3 cup reserved pasta water. Simmer to reduce the liquid by half. Add the pasta, arugula, lemon, and mint, tossing to coat them with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the almond crisp and cook until it has started to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour half of the butter into the pasta, tossing to coat. Transfer the pasta to a serving platter or plates, then garnish with the remaining almond crisp before serving.

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