This pasta has several things going for it: 1) it's a great way to showcase your finest asparagus; 2) it's light and bright from lemon and the herbed ricotta that you swirl into your pasta right before digging in; 3) it's got an unexpected depth of flavor from anchovy and mushrooms; and 4) it's an excuse to open a nice bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for both cooking and drinking purposes. I used Uproot 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, which made a lovely pairing. —EmilyC
4 to 6
tablespoons olive oil
large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
anchovy fillets, finely minced or mashed to a paste
large leek cut in half vertically, then sliced into thin crescents (white and light green parts only), washed well to remove any hidden dirt
ounces mushrooms, trimmed and sliced, single or mixed varieties (I used a mix of cremini, shiitake and oyster)
bunches of asparagus (about 1 1/2 pounds), woody ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces on the bias
cup Sauvignon Blanc
tablespoons unsalted butter
Juice and zest of 2 lemons (reserve 1 tablespoon of juice for the herbed ricotta)
pound spaghetti, linguine, or pasta of your choice
cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
tablespoons finely chopped tarragon
tablespoon finely chopped mint
cup ricotta, cool or at room temperature (not straight from the fridge)
Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and anchovy and cook for 1 minute, until the garlic starts to lightly color. Add the leek and mushrooms, and cook (stirring a few times) until they start to soften, about 4 to 6 minutes. Add the asparagus, tossing well to combine. Cook for another minute, then add the Sauvignon Blanc. Let simmer until the asparagus is crisp-tender; the wine should reduce but not cook off. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Turn off heat, and stir in butter and lemon zest. Toss until the butter melts and evenly coats the vegetables. Cover and set aside.
Mix together the ricotta, chopped tarragon, and mint in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to loosen.
When water is at a full boil, cook pasta until it's al dente, reserving about 1 cup of pasta water. Drain the remaining water.
Return the sauté pan to medium-low heat. Add pasta to vegetables, tossing well. Add parmesan and toss again, then add half of the remaining lemon juice. Taste, and add more lemon juice, salt, and pepper as needed. (I like lots of black pepper in this dish, but add to your liking.) Add reserved cooking water, a little at a time, if the pasta seems dry.
At the table, top each plate of pasta with a big dollop of herbed ricotta.