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Pappardelle with Buffalo Mozzarella and Braised Asparagus Sauce

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Pappardelle with Buffalo Mozzarella and Braised Asparagus Sauce

May/June 2012

From Jenni Neidhart

Alberta’s cool climate produces extremely sweet and tender asparagus. This minimal dish relies upon using only the best and being careful to only cook the asparagus until tender. Serve with any good quality soft melting cheese and even a drizzle of truffle oil if you are feeling indulgent.

1 lb. good quality pappardelle

2 lb. asparagus

1/2 c. vegetable stock

1/2 c. olive oil

1 t. minced fresh thyme

1 T. sliced garlic

3/4 lb. buffalo mozzarella cheese, torn into pieces

fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper

Bend each asparagus spear until it breaks naturally at the point where the spear becomes tough. Discard the tough ends. Cut the asparagus on the bias into 2-inch pieces.

In a large sauté pan, combine the stock, olive oil, thyme and garlic. Season with salt. Add just as much asparagus to the pan as can fit in a single layer. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium heat, reducing the heat as necessary to keep it at a simmer. Cook the asparagus until crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Using tongs, transfer the asparagus to a plate and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining asparagus.

While the asparagus is cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pappardelle and cook until al dente. Drain and transfer the cooked pasta to a serving platter. Drizzle with some of the pan juices from the asparagus, tossing the pasta with tongs to keep it from sticking. Top with the braised asparagus and torn cheese, then with a generous amount of freshly ground pepper and fleur de sel. Allow 1 or 2 minutes for the cheese to begin melting over the pasta, then serve. Serves 6.