I don't think there is a day that I wouldn't love a plate of Penne Pasta. Today, with some nice vegetables like Asparagus and Mushrooms, perfect for spring.
Being Italian, pasta is a very important staple in the pantry. So many regions in Italy, and so many distinct versions of Penne: Penne arrabbiata, Penne with roasted cherry tomatoes, Penne al salmone, Penne Pasta al forno, etc. All equally good and this Penne the way it's textured in two styles one being smooth one being corrugated, and its tube shape makes for a wonderful holder of any combination or sauce ensemble, ensuring great flavor.
After scanning the pantry and the kitchen today, my thoughts are a nice plate of Penne Pasta with Asparagus and Mushrooms.
Penne Pasta Preparation:
I bought some asparagus at the local Planet Organic and it is spring and asparagus is in season, along with some chanterelle mushrooms which have an almost acidic truffle taste to them. These along with some garlic and onion, sautéed in a pan with some good quality extra virgin olive oil, and a trickle of white truffle oil is going to make this Penne sing with joyous flavor. The pot of salted water is on boil, and I know I have heard many people are always worried if the water is salted enough. My rule is I put a bit of sea salt, then I taste the water, if it is still flavorless I add a bit more until the desired saltiness is achieved ensuring this Penne to be good. I pre-boiled the asparagus after cleaning and cutting the tougher parts, usually about an inch or two off the stem. Chopped up some onion, minced some garlic, slathered a medium-high heat pan with that good olive oil, tossed in the vegetables starting with the garlic and onion, then added the mushrooms and asparagus. The smell of this medley is intoxicating has me feeling impatient and wanting to just grab a piece of bread and making a small veggie sandwich. I finish sautéeing the vegetables with a splash of white wine, deglazing the pan of all that awesome goodness and a splash of white truffle oil and it is set. Into the water goes the Penne pasta for about 8-10 minutes or as the package instructs but taking it out a bit earlier as I will finish it in the pan with the asparagus and mushrooms. I put it in the same water as I pre-boiled the asparagus in giving the pasta some more flavor. The goal is to achieve that slight crunch or as we say al dente texture. It seems redundant saying it all the time, but I love my pasta this way. I feel light after eating it and my body has ease in digesting it. Once the pasta is partially cooked I drain most of the water out and leave just a little to mingle with the penne and sautéed asparagus and mushroom medley, blending nicely the pasta and vegetables, and of course a drizzle of olive oil on top to finish it off. Olive oil to us Italians is like what butter is for Canadians.
The flavor is beautiful. Equal stagings of asparagus and mushrooms, sweetness from the caramelized onion, that garlic backdrop, a hint of truffle oil, and all those juices pulled from the bottom of the pan by the white wine, yum. The Parmigiano Reggiano offering that pungent saltiness and the fresh cherry tomatoes bringing in a nice acidic sweet juiciness to the dish, and not to mention the Penne pasta, wheaty, nutty, nice slight crunch, a perfect contrasting match to the softness of the vegetables.Print
- 200 grams Penne rigate pasta
- 2 ½ tablespoons cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon white truffle oil
- 2 small yellow onions
- 1 bundle of asparagus, washed and trimmed
- 5 chanterelle mushrooms, washed and chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- ⅛ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- In a large pot bring water and salt to boil, tasting the water for saltiness.
- Take asparagus and cut off stems about 1-2 inches, wash and put in boiling water, cook for about 8 minutes, take out of water and place on cutting board, cutting at a diagonal 2 inch pieces.
- In a sautée pan add 2 tablespoons olive oil and bring to a medium to high heat.
- Toss in onions and garlic, sauté for a bit then add mushrooms and asparagus.
- Salt and pepper to taste then add white wine and stir till wine dissipates.
- Add in the truffle oil, a quick toss and then take off heat.
- Place Penne into the boiling water that the asparagus was boiled in.
- Cook pasta as per instructions on package. I usually taste the pasta a few minutes before to make sure it is a bit undercooked as I will finish it in the pan with the vegetables.
- Drain pasta and leave just a bit of water.
- Place sautéed vegetables on heat again, add pasta and water and cook till water dissipates.
- Finish dish with a drizzle of olive oil, a dusting of parmigiano, and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.
- You're set.
- Enjoy with a nice glass of either red or white wine of your choice (I had it with a homemade Merlot 2014).
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: Pasta, Vegetarian
- Serving Size: 2 servings
It is a beautiful sunny day, rays beaming through the window, the warmth, a nice caress to my skin, a deep sigh as I settle into my chair, cooking completed, and look outside and seeing spring is in the air, a nice sip of the aromatic, robust homemade Merlot, the only thing missing is my wife, so wish she was here with me right now to enjoy this wonderful Penne Pasta with Asparagus and Mushrooms.
Song of the day, one of my favorite Canadian bands right now: City and Color, "Lover come back".
Can't wait to see this group here in Edmonton with my wife, there will be a whole lot of singing and dancing happening!
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When I am not cooking, I enjoy playing musical instruments, singing, writing. I have learned over the years to live in gratitude and enjoy the moment.