California Central Coast Recipes
A to Z Pasta with Balsamic Butter
When fresh Asparagus comes on the market in early spring, this is a quick unusual recipe to throw together that has a very unique taste ---and it's very healthy too.
You can serve it as pasta entree or as a side dish.
Don't worry about the cost of the Balsamic vinegar. Just use any ordinary low-cost one that any grocery store carries, because you add other ingredients to the vinegar that will give it a full-bodied flavor.
Preparation time: 15 minutesCooking time: 15 minutes
2 pounds Asparagus
1 pound Ziti
2 to 3 T. Extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoons salt
Several grinds black peppercorns
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1/2 cup butter , cut into chunks
1 cup Parmesan cheese , grated, plus additional for the table
1 Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2 Cut off the tough ends of the asparagus. Cut each of the asparagus spears into pieces the same size as the pasta and place in bowl.
3 Toss the asparagus with olive oil and then spread it out in the bottom of a baking sheet or pan. Sprinkle with a half teaspoon salt and a few grinds black peppercorns. Roast until tender ---about ten to fifteen minutes, depending on the size of the asparagus.
4 While the asparagus is roasting, put the balsamic vinegar into a large nonreactive saucepan and simmer over medium heat to reduce the volume by one third.
5 Mix in the brown sugar and chunks of butter and a few grinds of black peppercorns, stir then remove from heat. Taste, and correct the sweet-sour taste to personal taste.
6 In the meantime, cook the ziti in a large pot of salted water until al dente or according to package.
7 Drain the pasta and toss with the vinegar-butter mixture and the roasted asparagus, and Parmesan. Salt and pepper to taste.
8 Serve with additional Parmesan at the table for topping.
Wine suggestion: A crisp white wine such as a Fumeí Banc or Chardonnay works well with this.