Fettuccine in bianco with white asparagus asiago and cream
One fall day, I came across a beautiful display of white asparagus at a local food market. Because they were in season, they were priced well, and so I bought a bunch, not knowing exactly how I would use them. I came up with this creamy sauce, in which the sweet, mild flavor of the asparagus is enhanced with red onion, shredded cheese, and thin ribbons of prosciutto. This recipe produces a lovely, elegant dish fit for company for very little work. It is rich and needs only a lightly dressed salad as an accompaniment.
Portions: Makes 4 to 6 servings
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp finely diced red onion
- 1 lb/455 g white asparagus, ends trimmed, tough outer layer peeled, and cut into 3/4-in/2-cm lengths
- 1 cup/240 ml heavy/double cream
- 1/2 cup/55 shredded asiago fresco cheese
- Kosher or fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 batch fresh egg pasta dough, cut into fettuccine, or 1 lb/455 g dried fettuccine
- 1/2 cuo/55 g freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
- 3 oz/85 g thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma, cut into narrow strips
Put the butter in a large frying pan placed over medium heat. When the butter is melted, stir in the onion and sauté for 2 minutes, allowing the butter to sizzle a little but not brown. Add the asparagus and toss to coat thoroughly with the butter. Sauté for 6 to 8 minutes, or until barely tender. Stir in the cream and Asiago and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the sauce has thickened. While the sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt generously. Add the fettuccine and stir to separate the noodles. If using fresh pasta, cover the pot until the water returns to a boil, then uncover and cook the pasta for 3 to 5 minutes, or until al dente. If using dried pasta, cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander set in the sink, reserving about 1 cup/240 ml of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot and pour the sauce over it. Toss gently to combine the pasta and sauce thoroughly. Add the ½ cup/55 g Parmigiano and the prosciutto and gently toss again. Add a little of the cooking water if necessary to loosen the sauce. Transfer the dressed pasta to a warmed serving bowl or shallow individual bowls. Sprinkle a little Parmigiano on top and serve immediately.