Genius Recipes

Craig Claiborne's Pasta con Asparagi

By • May 15, 2013 • 28 Comments

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Every week -- often with your help -- Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: A mashup of all the best pasta sauces -- tomato, asparagus, and carbonara -- with surprisingly harmonious results. 

 

 

Despite (or maybe because of) a sluggish spring, you've probably already been hitting the asparagus pretty hard -- blanching and feathering it, slipping it into your pasta under pools of ricotta.

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

But Craig Claiborne was too clever a cook to follow the easy paint-by-season path to recipe development, matching peas with asparagus and tomatoes with sweet corn. He knew how to clash, gracefully.

craig claiborne  nyt cookbook

Thankfully, we've learned to salvage tomatoes from late summer and give them eternal life in cans. And while they'd be of no use in a caprese, they have every right to be in sauce all year long. 

canned tomatoes

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. 

pasta con asparagi

Craig Claiborne's Pasta con Asparagi

Adapted slightly from The New New York Times Cookbook (Crown, 1979)

Serves 8 

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

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

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

Jump to Comments (28)

Tags: Genius, genius recipes, Craig Claiborne, New York Times, asparagus, pasta, carbonara, spring, pantry

Comments (28)

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12 months ago Nutbutter

This recipe was tasty, if maybe a little flat. I would suggest a high quality aged parm to keep it on it's toes. And while I love a hearty meat free meal, I have to admit that after a bite or two my mind went straight to pancetta. And maybe (call me 90s) a few sun dried tomatoes.

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over 1 year ago SweetCarol126

Perhaps they are using the amount of pasta that should be a serving instead of what we often use as a side carb. I recently got some isobo noodles with some veggies at Costco and each package inside the box is supposed to be 2 servings and the sodium is sure too much at 750 per serving. However, it is so easy to finish off the whole bag for one person which is way too much sodium at 1500 grams yet the amount tastes like one serving. We need to cut down on our carbs except for veggies and fruit. My husband and I use about a half box (half pound) and we always have enough for leftovers at another meal. There are small packages probably a half pound, a pound and a 2 lb package, I believe. Need to make sure of the pounds or ounces uncooked.

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over 1 year ago beckysingson

I love the concept of this recipe and the asparagus sauteed in butter was really the pièce de résistance. I would note to be cautious of the amount of egg - I found the 2 + 1 yolk to be a little too much. I added an extra grind or two of pepper to give it that really peppery bite that traditional carbonara has.

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over 1 year ago Arrxx

I've got this going for tonight and I added a bit of pancetta.I always find it interesting to see how recipes are written especially in terms of quantities. So for example, ever try to fit that chopped basil and parsley into a tablespoon?. Messy! In a recent cookbook I bought it looks like every recipe has a "scant" cup of this or that or one cup plus 1 tsp of something. I suppose we can just take many of these as guides. It's interesting to note, not a criticism. Keep up the great work Food 52

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over 1 year ago Sipa

My husband and I both felt like the finished pasta was missing something and that was using someone's idea of crisped pancetta. Not bad but not all that exciting.

Monkeys

over 1 year ago monkeymom

I tend to use quite a bit of freshly grated parmesan...sort of inline with the idea of the carbonara.

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over 1 year ago Steve White

This recipe looks great. But I have a gripe. It calls for 3/4 lb. of pasta. Pasta comes in 1 lb. bags or boxes and if you're making pasta, why not make the whole box? There are 3 of us in our family, one of whom is a boy on the cusp of adolescence who eats everything in sight. So it would be great if I could make this recipe without having to adjust all the ingredient amounts in order to make a whole pound of pasta.
I wonder if anybody else feel this way?

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over 1 year ago Blork

Steve, I had similar doubts about the amount of pasta (3/4 lb for 8 servings?). Frankly, if you just use the whole box it wouldn't make a big difference. Maybe add a bit more tomato and one more egg.

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over 1 year ago Steve White

Thanks, Blork, I'll do that [tonight, in fact!]. But my comment was a bit more general. It seems a lot of pasta recipes call for 12oz (3/4 lb). Life would be easier, at least in our house, if all recipes just use the box amounts.

Miglore

over 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

I hear you -- was pasta sold in different increments in 1979? Or maybe Craig was buying it in bulk in Little Italy. I totally agree with Blork's suggestion.

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over 1 year ago Rhonda35

I have several pounds of wild asparagus just waiting for fabulous recipes like this!

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over 1 year ago jmcgreevy

Made it this evening as an accompaniment to grilled wild salmon; decided to follow the recipe to the letter rather than innovate right out of the chute; it was wonderful! Grazie tanto, Food 52!

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over 1 year ago Blork

This looks really good, and I'm going to try it tonight. Two notes:

1) I'll be the addition of a small amount of crisped pancetta or crisped prosciutto would just knock this out of the park.

2) I'm a bit curious about the quantities. This is labelled as a recipe for 8 but it only uses 3/4 lb (340 g) of pasta, which is what I'd use for four servings. On the other hand, there's a lot of asparagus in there, so if you think of this as an asparagus dish that has some pasta in it (as opposed to a pasta dish that has some asparagus in it), it might make sense. In my case I'm making it for four, so I will cut everything in half except the pasta, for which I'll probably use 300 g.

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over 1 year ago Blork

That should be "I'll BET the addition of..."

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over 1 year ago Blork

UPDATE: I made this tonight and it was really good! Quantity-wise, I used about a pound of asparagus, but after trimming the stumps it was probably about 3/4 lb (340g). I used about 10oz of penne (275g). 1 egg plus one yolk. Everything else was pretty much half the original recipe (although I used the full amount of fresh herbs). It made four "reasonable" portions.

Regarding the crisped pancetta/prosciutto, I'm not so sure now, as the recipe was spectacular on its own. If I were to add some, it would be a small amount sprinkled on at the end like a garnish.

Astafford

over 1 year ago Alexandra Stafford

This looks so freaking good. Can't wait to try it.

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over 1 year ago Muse

This looks delicious...can't wait to make some...YUM!

Monkeys

over 1 year ago monkeymom

Ah! So glad to see this! The photos looks so good, I absolutely have to make this again right away.

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over 1 year ago Linda A.Weisser

I was wondering if there was a way of sharing recipes on FACEBOOK?

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over 1 year ago Rhonda35

Yes - go to top of this page - to the right, just under the recipe title, there is a button with the Facebook "f" - click and share on your page or someone else's. :-)

Miglore

over 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Thanks Rhonda!

Tomatoes

over 1 year ago arthurb3

Looks so yummy! I will have to try it!

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over 1 year ago Laura Abbasi

This looks amazing! However, I can't have raw eggs. Is there something I can use as a substitute to maintain the consistency or is it fine just to go without? Thanks!!!

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over 1 year ago MeghanVK

Just guessing, but if the idea is to thicken and gloss up the sauce, a scoop of pasta cooking water (for the starch) and a pat of butter would probably be a good alternative.

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over 1 year ago CarolinaBeach

Could you eat pasteurized eggs? They are fairly common in grocery stores here, the brand I use is "Safest Eggs." I use them whenever raw eggs are specified in a recipe. If not, I would just skip the egg.

Monkeys

over 1 year ago monkeymom

I think that a bit of cream or butter will help tamp down the acid the way the egg does, but won't bind it the same way. That part of it is really unique.

Stringio

over 1 year ago Margaret Donegan-Ryan

The heat of the pasta and sauce will cook the egg. It just needs to be raw going in so that it doesn't clump like scrambled eggs, instead it coats the pasta.

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over 1 year ago Blork

I'd be careful with that. While people commonly say that adding raw eggs to cooked things then "cooks" the eggs, I don't think that's 100% accurate. It certainly warms the eggs, but there's no guarantee it brings the eggs up to a temperature that is hot enough to "cook" them to a level that makes them safe for someone who is at risk if they eat uncooked eggs.