RECIPE: Penne with Local Asparagus and Shiitakes

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The eggs, parmesan and a bit of pasta water create a luscious creamy sauce for the asparagus and mushrooms. It’s nice if you can cut the asparagus on a diagonal to make the dish look prettier — it’s cooked in a hot pan without water for a crisp, tender result. You can buy both local tender asparagus at local farms each spring and flavorful shiitake mushrooms from MV Mycological or a local grower.

Ingredients

12 ounces penne pasta

1 pound asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1 1 /2 pieces

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms

2 cloves garlic

2 eggs

3/4 cup parmesan reggiano cheese

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/2 cup pasta water

Directions

1.     Bring a pot of water to a boil to cook the pasta. Add salt and pasta and cook until al dente, according to directions. (Save 1/2 cup of the pasta water.) 

2.     While the water is coming to a boil and pasta cooks, heat the largest skillet you own on medium high. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and asparagus and cook for 4 minutes, stirring very often to make sure all sides of the asparagus are cooked. Add a pinch or two of salt. The asparagus will be crisp tender. Place cooked asparagus into a bowl and set aside.

3.     In the same skillet, add the remaining two tablespoons of oil on medium-low heat and add the shitake mushrooms. Stir for a few seconds, then add the garlic. Cook, mixing often, until mushrooms are cooked, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and add to the asparagus, and set the skillet aside.

4.     In another bowl, whisk the eggs, parmesan and lemon zest together.  Season with salt and pepper. When the pasta is nearly cooked, take 1/2 cup of the pasta water and gradually (slowly) whisk into the egg mixture.

5.     Drain pasta and place into the large skillet. Add the sauce to the hot pasta and mix well. Add the asparagus and mushrooms. The heat of the pasta should be enough to warm the asparagus and mushrooms, but you can put a low flame under the pot if not.

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Catherine Walthers
Catherine Walthers is a freelance writer and author of four cookbooks. “Now that I’ve learned to grow my own microgreens, my goal for 2021 is not to buy another plastic laundry or dish detergent container, thanks in part to my discovery of GoGo Refill in Portland, Maine.”

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