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Today: A mashup of all the best pasta sauces -- tomato, asparagus, and carbonara -- with surprisingly harmonious results.
But have you had it with tomatoes?
Doubtful, because that would be goofy. Tomatoes are born in August, asparagus in May. Their biological clocks weren't designed to go together.
More: How to Prep Asparagus
Even with asparagus! Its grassy pop is surprisingly at home in a bed of sweet-sour tomato sauce, mellowed with a last-minute addition of beaten eggs, à la carbonara.
Oh, you haven't done that either? Beaten raw eggs into your tomato asparagus sauce? Well, it's about time. (Claiborne was doing it in 1979 -- we're behind!) A little egg pulls the sauce together, glossing it up without muffling it like heavy cream would do.
Maybe the most genius part: As Food52er monkeymom pointed out when she sent me this recipe, this is essentially a highly adaptable pantry pasta supper, with addition of fresh asparagus (which is sort of a staple this time of year anyway).
But by rearranging your pantry staples just so, dinner turns out elegant and new. So go on: break free of the season. Clash a little.
Adapted slightly from The New New York Times Cookbook (Crown, 1979)
1 1/2 pound fresh asparagus
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes, put through a sieve or grated coarsely
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
3/4 pounds penne, rigatoni, or other tubular pasta
2 eggs, plus one yolk, beaten well with a fork
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].
Photos by James Ransom
The Genius Recipes cookbook is here! (Well, almost.) The book is a mix of greatest hits from the column and unpublished new favorites -- all told, over 100 recipes that will change the way you think about cooking. It'll be on shelves in April, but you can pre-order your copy now.