Thursday, March 16, 2017

Tagliatelle, Asparagus & Parmesan in Lemon Butter Sauce

Quick, delicious, and nutritious pasta dishes work. All the time. But especially in asparagus season.

Lemon and butter brings out the best both in pasta and asparagus

It's the first time that our asparagus which was planted about five seasons ago can sustain a full harvest lasting two months therefore asparagus picking chez nous will continue till mid-May. Yay for mature asparagus beds!

The bed was weeded and fertilised about two weeks ago. Spears are cut with a sharp knife at an slight angle just below the soil

For one large serving, boil up a couple of fistfuls of pasta. Wash about six spears. Thickly slice the stems on the diagonal, leaving the tips whole. About two minutes before the pasta is almost al dente, toss in the sliced asparagus. After a minute, add the tips. Scoop out a large ladle of pasta water and reserve. In another minute, drain the pasta and asparagus, keeping them in the strainer. Depending on how fresh your asparagus is, it could take less or more time so check for tenderness as it cooks. No mush please! In the same pot that the pasta was cooked, melt a nice knob of butter. Add the freshly squeezed juice from a small lemon and a slosh of the pasta water. Simmer for a minute. Then add the pasta and asparagus, stirring for about a minute or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Serve with a good sprinkling of fleur de sel, freshly ground black pepper, and Parmesan shavings. 

My favourite tagliatelle are short, broad, and slightly curvy noodles made with eggs

Though not as decorative as non-fruiting trees, our peach beauty is putting out a decent enough show of deep-pink blossoms.

Ditto for the purple plum.

L'herbe (includes any herbaceous, soft-stemmed plant so that term is perfect for our weedy lawn!) got its first edging of the season with the dresse-bordure (metal lawn edger shaped like a half-moon) and grass clippers. An effective method is easing the edger close to the concrete/tiled edge while at a slight angle towards the grass so as to undercut the roots. Remove the tool by slightly rocking it from side to side as the handle is pressed towards the grass side so as to compact the wodge of soil (slightly moist soil is the most malleable) so it doesn't crumble into the little ditch that is being made. Using your gloved fingers, pull out the cut strip, shaking off and squishing any excess soil back into the ditch. The edge is cut with well oiled, sharpened, and cleaned grass clippers. The clippings get scooped out and the patio swept. Even our 'lawn' looks great with such precise treatment! Such edging usually needs refreshing several times during the growing season while clipping the grass along the ditch needs to be repeated when the lawn is mowed. As pesky as this maintenance is, it is one of the tasks that drastically improves the appearance of any garden. As my British sister-in-law says, it makes the garden look posh.

Culinary sage in the lower right which soon will be be pruned back severely

Our neighbours bring us their clippings which include lots of fragrant camomile from their front garden.

The clippings are turned frequently to dry them out, so they can be used as mulch, along with partially decomposed leaves from this past autumn (in background)

The two overwintered beds of onions, garlic, and shallots have been weeded and fertilised. They are awaiting to be mulched to conserve soil moisture until their harvest in July.

The Darwin hybrid Apeldoorn tulips charm in their cherry-red, silk dresses.

Italian arums are putting out their distinctive, shield-shaped leaves, making tuffs of lush green.

À la prochaine!


L'herbe is not exactly a lawn. Explanation in French here.
Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe

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