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We're celebrating Meatless Mondays with balanced, delicious meal plans. We hope you'll join us -- whether you're vegetarian all the time or just here and there.
Today: While you whip up a 15-minute pasta masterpiece, placate your guests with a classic cockail.
Do you groan every time you see a recipe that instructs you to serve the dish piping hot? By the time the table is set, the bread is out, the drinks are poured, and you've gathered all of your guests (or friends or children), the food is far from steaming.
For dinner tonight, we've got a solution. Give your fellow eaters a classic old fashioned (or if they're underage, a booze-free alternative) to tide them over. Put them to work getting out the plates and forks while you whip up a 15-minute pasta masterpiece. No one will complain about waiting for dinner, and you'll be able to carry your food straight from the stovetop to the table. Plus, if you've given up alcohol for Lent, an old fashioned is an excellent way to reintroduce yourself to booze.
1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus
2 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes, put through a sieve
3/4 pound penne, rigatoni, or other tubular pasta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
We're assuming you have 3 eggs, butter, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in your kitchen. If not, add those to the list, too.
1. Prepare all of your ingredients before starting. Snap the asparagus ends and cut into 2-inch lengths, leaving the tips in tact. Finely chop 1 tablespoon each of parsley and basil. Beat 2 eggs plus one yolk. Bring about 3 quarts of water to a boil for the pasta.
2. Placate your guests with alcohol. Place a sugar cube in the bottom of each glass. Add 3 dashes of bitters and a splash of water to each glass. Crush the sugar with a spoon, then pour in 2 ounces of rye whiskey and a few ice cubes. Stir until well chilled. Garnish with an orange peel.
3. Heat 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet and add the asparagus pieces with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until crisp-tender and lightly browned. Transfer to a plate and reserve.
4. In the same pan, add 2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 whole cloves of garlic. Cook the garlic until lightly browned, then remove and discard. Add tomatoes, parsley, and basil. Season to taste. Cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, generously salt the water and add the pasta. When the water returns to a boil, cook for about 7 minutes until tender.
6. Just before the pasta is done, turn off the heat under the tomatoes and add the beaten eggs, stirring so that they blend without curdling. Do not boil the sauce.
7. Add the asparagus to the tomato sauce and stir. Drain the pasta, add the tomato sauce and asparagus, and toss with half the cheese. Serve hot with remaining cheese. Make another round of old fashioneds once you've drained your cup.
Photos by James Ransom