Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Bowtie Pasta with Mascarpone, Asparagus, and Hazelnuts

Back when I was first learning how to cook, this was one of the first "fancy" pasta dishes I tried to make.  In the beginning, I'm pretty sure I added way too much water to the sauce and ended up with watery, bland pasta with some asparagus and cheese on it.  But, I got better at it and it was on regular rotation in our house for about a year.  Then I started accumulating cookbooks.  I wanted to try Indian! Thai! Stir Fry! Mexican!  And this recipe was forgotten for a few years.  

A few weeks ago, I cleaned out my cookbooks to donate some to charity (and make room for more!) and found a "Best of Bon Appetit" cookbook.  This recipe was in it.  I got nostalgic and decided to make it again.  I'd forgotten how much I like it!  It's quick, easy, and vegetarian.  The sauce is pretty mild so it does need some salt and pepper.  But, it's very creamy, slightly sweet, and goes well with the roasted asparagus.  I added some sauteed garlic for extra flavor.  If you can buy blanched hazelnuts in bulk at your grocery store, that will make this dish really quick because then you don't have to do it yourself.  Honestly, if you're strapped for time, leaving the husks on will make your dish less pretty but I don't think it's worth it to remove them unless you're serving guests or have the time to spare.  My main alteration to this recipe is that I barely added any of the reserved cooking water to the sauce.  I did it very slowly and stopped as soon as the sauce reached my desired consistency, which for me was still relatively thick. It was easy to stir and coat everything, but not watery at all.  I definitely recommend this dish for a quick work night dinner.  I served it with some cantaloupe.

Bowtie Pasta (Farfalle) with Mascarpone, Asparagus, and Hazelnuts
Slightly adapted from Bon Appetit
Serves 2


1 lb asparagus (preferably skinny), trimmed and cut diagonally in two inch lengths
1.5 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 lb farfalle (I used a little extra)
4 oz mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked, and coarsely chopped
1.5 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
Parmesan cheese shavings


1) Preheat your oven to 450 F.  Start boiling water for the pasta. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and place asparagus on it. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.  Spread the asparagus in a single layer and roast for 10 minutes.

2) While the asparagus is roasting, saute the garlic in some olive oil in a small pan.  Remove from pan and set aside.  To toast the hazelnuts, heat a pan over medium high heat (don't add oil) and cook, shaking the pan occasionally for a few minutes, until the hazelnuts smell toasted.  (Or if you have a toaster oven, just use that.  I don't have one. :P)

3) Cook the pasta according to the package.  Drain, but reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water (you won't use it all though).  Return the pasta to the pot.  Stir in the mascarpone, grated Parmesan, garlic, and asparagus.  Toss over medium heat until everything is well coated with sauce - about 3 minutes.  Add reserved pasta water to achieve desired consistency.  (Add very slowly).

4) Serve pasta in shallow bowls and top with hazelnuts, chives, and Parmesan cheese shavings.

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