September 10, 2008

Penne with Pistachios, Asparagus, and Cream

A creative combo; the sweet from the cream and crunch from nuts.

1/3 cup pistachio nuts
2 teaspoons salt
1 pound asparagus, cut into thirds
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 large clove garlic, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 cup half and half
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 pound penne
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the nuts on an aluminum pie plate and toast them in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, watching carefully so they don't burn. After letting cool for a couple, transfer the nuts to a plastic bag, pound, and set aside.

Cook the asparagus in a stock pot in boiling salted water, uncovered, over medium-high heat until tender, about 3 minutes. Remove the asparagus, saving the water so the pasta can be prepared in the same pot.

Saute garlic in butter over medium heat, pressing with a wooden spoon to release its flavor. When the garlic starts to brown around the edges, add asparagus and pepper. Raise the heat to high, and pour in wine. Stir for about 1 minute, reduce the heat to medium.

Pour the half and half and heavy cream over the asparagus mixture and simmer for 2 minutes; season with salt. Keep warm while the penne cooks.

Cook the penne al dente in asparagus water; drain and return to the cooking pot. Combine asparagus sauce with penne and stir over low heat. Add cheese, stirring until it melts. Garnish penne with pistachios and serve immediately.

Makes 10 cups Calories per cup: 267 Fat: 8g Carbs: 38g Sodium: 404 mg Fiber: 3 g

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