June 7, 2010

Asparagus, Goat Cheese and Lemon Pasta

I've mentioned before how much I adore the Smitten Kitchen blog, right? I can't help it! Deb is a great cook and baker, she takes beautiful pictures, her writing is witty and her son is completely nom-able. I bookmarked this recipe of hers right before I found out I was pregnant, but during the past 12 weeks, the thought of cooking made me want to cry. Luckily, this is a super-easy, whip together in about 10 minutes, light, summery dinner that I really should have been able to make (instead of forcing Alex to eat frozen pizza.)

I forgot the lemon zest, but will definitely remember it for next time. The goat cheese (yes, it's pasturized. I can eat it, TYVM!) adds a perfect amount of tang and salt, while the lemon juice brightens up the whole dish. I can only imagine the extra POW from lemon zest! Seriously, everyone, this recipe is so easy and fast. I highly recommend it.

adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 pound spiral-shaped pasta
1 pound slender asparagus spears, trimmed, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon plus more for garnish (didn't have, don't like the flavor anyways!)
1 5- to 5 1/2-ounce log soft fresh goat cheese (the pre-crumbled stuff will not melt as well)
Fresh lemon juice to taste (optional)
Cook your pasta in well-salted water until it is almost tender, or about three minutes shy of what the package suggests. Add asparagus and cook until firm-tender, another two to three minutes. Drain both pasta and asparagus together, reserving one cup of pasta water.

Meanwhile, combine olive oil, lemon peel, tarragon and goat cheese in a large bowl, breaking up the goat cheese as you put it in. Add hot pasta and asparagus to bowl, along with a little bit (maybe 1/4 cup) of the pasta water. Toss until smoothly combined, adding more pasta water if needed. Season genersously with salt and pepper, and lemon juice.