Caserecce with asparagus, spring onions and garlic scapes

This is a dish for those nights when you want something homemade, but you don’t really feel like cooking cooking. Once the vegetables are prepped and the water’s at a boil you’re less than 15 minutes away from sitting down to eat. I like that, especially after a busy day.

A simple pasta is also one of my favorite ways to celebrate all of the beautiful, young spring vegetables popping up at the markets right now: tender and juicy asparagus, mellow spring onions, sprightly garlic scapes, leafy herbs. All that’s needed is a quick saute in olive oil and good butter and the simplest of seasonings to awaken their green goodness: lemon zest, crushed red chile, some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

We’ve been experimenting with gluten-free pastas lately, and I have to say, these Jovial caserecce really impressed. The box cooking time is 9 minutes, so I checked at the 7-minute mark — still very al dente. I let them cook for 2 minutes more and then transferred them with a spider to the skillet with the vegetables, adding a ladle of cooking water to make things saucy.

I was worried that I might have gone to far with them, but even after cooking everything together for a couple minutes more the castarecce were perfectly al dente. So in short they’re very forgiving, which I appreciate, having been traumatized by a few other GF pastas over the years, which tended to go from hard to mushy in the blink of an eye. I can’t speak for Jovial’s other shapes, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Caserecce with asparagus, spring onions and garlic scapes 
Serves 3 to 4
Gluten-free

1 bunch asparagus, tough ends removed
1/2 pound brown rice pasta (such as castarecce)

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 spring onions, thinly sliced

2 garlic scapes, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces

pinch of crushed red chile
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano or Pecorino (plus more to finish)

2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint leaves (plus more for sprinkling on top)

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley (plus more for sprinkling on top)
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously and blanch the asparagus until bright green and crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from pot with tongs and drain. When cool enough to handle, cut spears on the bias into 1-inch sections.

Add pasta to the pot and cook according to package directions (check for doneness 2 minutes before suggested cooking time).

While pasta boils, heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, garlic scapes, red chile and a pinch of salt. Cook until softened and beginning to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Add asparagus and a pinch of salt, and stir to combine; continue cooking over low heat for a few minutes.

When pasta is al dente, transfer with spider or slotted spoon to the skillet. Add 1/2 cup pasta cooking water and lemon zest; simmer until liquid has reduced to a saucy consistency, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off heat and add Parmigiano, a drizzle of olive oil, herbs, and a few grinds of black pepper, if desired. Toss to combine.

Serve immediately, finishing each bowl with grated Parm, herbs, pine nuts and a drizzle of olive oil.

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