Since pasta is my ultimate go-to pantry staple, sometimes I realize that I have been preparing it the same old 3 or 4 ways. I need to branch out, try new things with the pasta. Don't get me wrong; I could still eat pasta every night of the week and not get tired of it. It would just be nice to have a very wide range of pasta recipes at my fingertips for quick weeknight meals.
Enter Cooking Light....and Ellie Krieger. I can always count on both to bring me new ideas and satisfy flavor-wise. This time, I found one recipe from each of these sources, mashed them together, added a bit of my own inspiration, and produced this awesome dinner!
It started with lots of fresh scallions, and a bit of fresh asparagus. We had received both from Andy's parents, and had to use them up pretty quickly. I had bookmarked a Cooking Light recipe for a pasta dish with asparagus, pancetta, and pine nuts that sounded good. At the bottom of that recipe, the magazine indicated that walnuts (instead of the pine nuts) would be delicious in this, too. Sounded good to me. I only had bacon on hand, no pancetta. I decided that this would be fine. I also figured I would use up all the asparagus I had, and then I would throw in a generous helping of scallions at the end. Sounds very spring-y, no?
Then I remembered that Ellie Krieger has a recipe in her book, The Food You Crave, for fettuccini with walnuts and parsley. So I decided to combine her technique with the one listed in Cooking Light, and the outcome was, well, fabulous! This stuff was great warm. This stuff was great cold the next day as leftovers. I mean, it was just good. The nuts were the one thing in this recipe that I was unsure of, but I shouldn't have been worried. They provided welcome texture and crunch, and the toastiness of them couldn't be beat. Combined with the bacon and the fresh veggies, they made for a wonderfully unique addition to my pasta. We loved it.
The original Cooking Light recipe can be found here.
The original Ellie Krieger recipe can be found here.
Here is the recipe the way I made it:
Asparagus and Scallion Pasta with Bacon and Walnuts
adapted from Cooking Light and Ellie Krieger
makes 4-6 servings
1 lb. pasta, any shape you like
1/2 lb. - 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
6-8 scallions, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
2 oz. (about 4 slices) bacon
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese, optional
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place bacon on a slotted sheet (You can also line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, place a cooling rack on top of the foil, and then drape the bacon across the rack. It's the method I use, and the fat drips off the bacon to the sheet underneath, so it's less greasy.) and bake for 17-20 minutes, or until cooked through and crispy. Place on a paper towel-lined plate and let cool. Break up into small pieces.
2. Meanwhile, set a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook according to package directions. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the asparagus. Drain the pasta and asparagus, reserving 1/4-3/4 cup of cooking liquid in case you want to make your pasta wetter at the end of preparation.
3. In the pot the pasta was cooked in, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to burn it. Return the pasta and asparagus to the pot, along with the lemon juice, broth, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine. Add in the scallions, bacon, and walnuts, and toss again. If you need the extra pasta water, add it in at this time. Serve grated or shaved Parmesan at the table, if desired.