Carbonara-style Tagliatelle with Asparagus and Lemon-Herb Breadcrumbs
When I found this recipe I was super excited. Not only was it very easy to make this pasta dish dairy free (just skip the cheese), but it is a great recipe when I am in a hurry and just want a quick dinner. It is also very easy to make this dish soft enough that I don’t have to chew it a ton. I have used leftover asparagus and several different leftover proteins in this dish and it is always yummy (the photo above included left over ham steak and whole wheat fettuccine). I found this recipe on Foodnetwork.com and I have made it so many times, it has never been the same twice, but it’s always yummy!!
So here is the basic recipe:
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and washed
4 T extra virgin olive oil (plus extra to drizzle on the top)
2 T butter or margarine
Grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1 cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives
¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/3 pound pancetta, chopped
1 tsp black pepper
4 cloves of garlic, grated
½ cup dry white wine
3 egg yolks
1 pound egg tagliatelle pasta (or any pasta shape)
1 cup grated pecorino cheese
Trim the rough ends off of the asparagus and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Grill the asparagus until lightly charred and tender, about 7 to 10 minutes. Cut into 1-inch pieces on an angle. Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling. In a small skillet, heat 1 T of olive oil over medium heat. Add the butter and heat until melted, then add in the lemon zest and breadcrumbs. Stir until moistened and golden brown. Then add in the chives and parsley and take the skillet off the heat. Heat the remaining three tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and the pepper and cook for three minutes, stirring well. Add the garlic and cook while stirring for another 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the wine and turn the heat down to low. Lightly beat the egg yolks in a small bowl. Cook the pasta in the boiling water until al-dente (or until soft if you are toothless like me). Save 1 cup of the cooking liquid and drain the pasta. Beat the reserved water into the egg yolks to temper them. Add the asparagus to the pancetta mixture and heat through. Mix the pasta into the skillet with the asparagus and the pancetta mixture. With the heat off, pour the egg mixture over the top of the pasta mixture and toss for a minute or two. Here is where you add in the cheese if you like, I omit the cheese and simply put it on the table for those who want it. Put the pasta in a serving dish and coat with the lemon breadcrumbs, drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil if desired and serve.
The thing that I love most about this dish is that I tend to make it to use leftovers and it makes for a super fresh twist every time. I have used leftover asparagus many times. I have also served this with leftover parmesan crusted chicken for my husband to take for lunch. When I have leftover pork chops or ground pork and veal meatballs or leftover ham or ham steaks I love to add them into this recipe. When I have the last bit of a loaf of bread that is getting hard, I like to make my own breadcrumbs that I can use here. I have also made a small batch of this recipe when I have left over pasta that I need to use, any crazy shaped pasta will work. So try this recipe out, then try diggin’ in your fridge to see what you can add to enhance this in your own way!