Pappardelle di Giardino

Here in Michigan, Spring is all about asparagus. I managed to score some for $2/pound at the farmer’s market since I was willing to take “seconds”, so it has been asparagus and spinach omelettes for breakfast, and for dinner, I made this very simple, quick and healthy meal. I suppose you could spend as long as half an hour making it, if you chop slowly…

Pappardelle Giardino

1/2 lb pappardelle
1/2 lb peeled, de-veined shrimp
1 smallish vidalia onion, sliced into thick rings
9 asparagus spears, chopped into ~1″ lengths
2 T butter (more or less to taste, substitute olive oil if you’d rather, but I don’t recommend margarine!)
1 cup spinach
1 large heirloom tomato, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
~ 1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped (to taste)
1/4 cup broth (chicken or veggie, though mushroom broth adds some nice depth, too.)
Generous splash of dry white wine
Juice and zest of half a lemon
Small handful of fresh oregano or thyme
Small handful of fresh parsley, chopped
A few grinds of pepper
Pinch of sea salt
Shredded parmesan
Pine nuts or slivered almonds for garnish (optional)

Carmelise the onion in the butter (or oil). Really let it carmelise and get a rich colour. Whilst that’s cooking, put a pot on to boil for the pasta, and prep the rest of the ingredients. The water should come to a boil about the time the onions are ready, so toss the pasta into the water with a generous pinch of sea salt. Then, toss the asparagus, shrimp, thyme, and a pinch of sea salt into the pan with the onion and cook over a medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in the olives, garlic, and oregano or thyme, cook for one minute more. Pappardelle should be done about now, check that it’s a firm al dente and if so, take off the heat but do not drain. Add the tomato, spinach, broth, wine, and lemon zest to the shrimp and veg. Stir and cook until the spinach is wilted and the shrimp are pink, maybe 2 minutes. Scoop the pasta into the shrimp and veg, along with a splash of cooking water, adding more water if the sauce has cooked down too far. Sprinkle the parsley over and toss that to mix, then squeeze the lemon juice over the lot and add a couple of grinds of pepper (I particularly like smoked pepper, when I can get it.) Serve and top with shredded parmesan. Garnish with toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds, if you like.

You can also add in carrots and/or bell peppers with the asparagus, if you have them about, or whatever else is fresh and lovely at the market!

Serves four with bread and a light salad, or two if you skip the bread and salad, leaving a bit left over for lunch the next day.