Asparagus, Shrimp and Lemon Pasta

Due to technical difficulties beyond my control I have not blogged any recipes for quite awhile. Hopefully I’m back in working order and can carry on. My absence certainly isn’t due to my not cooking or baking. Every so often our local newspaper publishes recipes, and my husband found one that he thought looked good. Hint, hint. We love asparagus and who doesn’t love pasta?? It is asparagus season in Michigan and the recipe was provided by the Michigan Asparagus Council. (I had no idea there was an Asparagus Council, but now I know). I made some modifications to the original published recipe, the most significant being the addition of grilled shrimp. Not only did this dish present beautifully, it tasted great. I will definitely make it again.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound uncooked shrimp

1 T olive oil

8 oz fettuccine or linguine

1 pound of asparagus

4 T butter

4-5 garlic cloves minced

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup pasta liquid

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)

zest of one lemon

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup of cherry tomatoes halved

In a large heavy skillet heat the olive oil and 1 T of butter over medium high heat. Sear the shrimp until they turn pink, about 1 minute per side. Remove the shrimp from the skillet and set aside.

Fill a large pot with water that has been generously salted and cook your pasta according to package instructions. The original recipe called for fettuccine but I substituted linguine based on what was available in my pantry. While the pasta is cooking chop your asparagus into bite size pieces and mince the garlic.

Heat 2 T of butter in the skillet over medium heat and sauté the garlic for about 1 minute. Add the asparagus and cook, stirring occasionally, until the asparagus is tender.

Once the asparagus has cooked remove it from the pan. Set aside along with the grilled shrimp.

Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the skillet along with the heavy cream. Simmer gently until the cream thickens.

Once the cream has thickened add the pasta directly from the pot (do not drain) into the cream. Add additional pasta water until you have the desired sauce consistency.

Add the asparagus, shrimp, lemon juice and zest, and the shredded Parmesan cheese and toss. Allow all of the ingredients to simmer a couple of minutes in the sauce. This will help the pasta absorb some of the sauce and rewarm the shrimp and asparagus.

To add a little more color and because we love tomatoes, I sliced about a cup of cherry tomatoes and added them to the skillet just before serving.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with a little more grated Parmesan cheese, and serve. Enjoy! We have leftovers for another dinner.

NOTE: I cooked the shrimp with tails on but before adding the shrimp back into the pasta I removed them. Much more enjoyable when you don’t have to remove them while you’re eating.

Add a little extra pasta water to your leftovers before refrigerating (if you have leftovers). This helps when you’re reheating the dish.

I would say that this recipe will give you healthy portions for four people.

Creamy Pesto with Asparagus and Chicken

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I have been on a bit of a blogging hiatus.  Not because I haven’t been cooking.  Probably mostly because I’ve been a bit lazy.  Last weekend we went to an Italian restaurant with a group of people and a friend ordered linguini with a creamy pesto sauce.  She said it was excellent and wanted to know how to make it so I thought I’d do a little experimenting.  I don’t usually like cream sauces but I actually did like this.  I liked it a lot.  I also prefer angel hair over linguini or fettuccini so that’s what I used.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup chicken broth (I used better than bouillon)

2 T butter

1/2 cup pesto

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese plus more for finishing

1-2 T olive oil

1 chicken breast sliced into medallions

1 bunch of asparagus cut into 1-2 inch pieces

1 can baby artichokes halved

1 heirloom tomato diced

1/2 pound pasta of your choice

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Heat a large kettle of salted water to boiling and cook pasta according to package instructions.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy skillet.  Cut the chicken breast into medallions, season with salt and pepper and sear on both sides.  Put on a platter and keep warm until serving.

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If necessary add a little more olive oil to the skillet and add the asparagus.  Cook over medium high heat just until tender tossing occasionally.  Add the artichokes to the skillet and keep warm.

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In a medium size, heavy sauce pan heat the cream and chicken broth to a simmer.  Add butter and stir until melted.  Stir in the pesto and garlic powder.  Add the shredded Parmesan and stir until melted.

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Put the cooked pasta in a large skillet over low heat.  Reserve some of the pasta water.  Add the asparagus and artichoke hearts to the pasta.

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Add the chicken and the sauce and toss to coat.  If necessary add some of the pasta water.

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Add the tomatoes just before serving.

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Serve in pasta bowls and garnish with some additional shredded cheese and cracked pepper.  This dish was very yummy and for sure I will make it again.  I think that the addition of the pesto and the chicken broth made this dish a little less rich than typical cream sauces although heavy cream and butter play a major role here.

You can add your favorite vegetables in place of the asparagus and artichoke hearts or in addition to them.  You could also substitute shrimp or bay scallops for the chicken or make the dish meatless.  I used prepared pesto but obviously you could make your own and that would make the dish even better!

Mangia!Mangia!