The Last Days of Spargel

Starting to feel a little asparagus fatigue but unable to pass it by at the farmers market? Yes, it’s probably best grilled just after the T-bone gets pulled off the heat, but at this point you’ve likely also had it roasted with parmesan, steamed with a vinaigrette, and pureed in a soup or two. Here’s another turn–in a pasta sauce–one I made this weekend for a lunch. There are no leftovers, which is sad, but there will probably be a couple more bunches of asparagus this season.

In a sauce pan, saute bite-sized pieces of ham in olive oil. This could be bacon; it could be a ham steak; I used sliced deli ham that was eyeing me from the back of the fridge. Boil water for the pasta and after salting, add one bunch of chopped asparagus. Boil for 4 minutes and then remove the asparagus with a slotted spoon and set it aside. Proceed with boiling your pasta. Add a bunch of sliced garlic to the ham and after a minute add the asparagus as well. Add a splash of cooking sherry, scraping the bottom of the pan, and then mix in a small carton of heavy cream. I tossed in some creme fraiche I found as well, but it’s not necessary. Add ground nutmeg, tabasco, and grated parmesan. When the pasta is nearly cooked, drain it saving a cup of the salty cooking water. Pour both into the sauce and cook it until it is thick and coats the pasta. (This was inspired by a Williams-Sonoma recipe with ham and spinach.)

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