“Simple Stuff”


Last week my friend Sharon sent me a tweet about the renowned Italian cook and cookbook author Marcella Hazan from the Food 52 website with a note that said, “I kind of thought you liked her.”

She was right. I haven’t thought about her or her recipes in years, but after looking at the recipes on the website, I remembered why I always admired her. Her recipes are simple. They’re easy. They’re earthy and delicious and fabulous and made from scratch. They’re what good cooking should be and what so many dishes really aren’t.

And it’s something I always forget. I’m just drawn to recipes that are three pages long and make me pull out half of the pots and pans in my kitchen. Even when I really don’t want to do a lot of cooking because I’d rather play with string, I inevitably end up spending all kinds of time in the kitchen mostly because I can’t leave well enough alone. Buy bread? I’ll make bread. Pick up ice cream? That’s what the ice cream maker is for. It’s a slippery slope, my friends.

asparagus1Now that spring’s here, I need to re-embrace simple stuff. A pound or two of gorgeous asparagus doesn’t need much to make it any better than it already is; just a quick saute and some pasta and Parmesan should do it nicely. The socks I’m knitting are a heavenly blend of merino wool and cashmere in a simple lace and cable pattern. They’re lush and gorgeous. The yarn didn’t need an intricate stitch pattern for it to shine, so why complicate things?

In the spirit of keeping it simple, here’s a great recipe for asparagus and pasta. It’s from New Classics and for once, I left well enough alone and didn’t complicate anything. asparagus2



Pasta with Asparagus & Lemon

  • 1 ½ pounds asparagus
  • 1 pound penne or casarecce pasta
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup grated Pecorino or Parm
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
  2. Rinse the asparagus and snap off the tough ends (they’ll break where it’s tough). Or, trim off the ends and peel the stalks about halfway down the stalk. Cut off about 1 ½ inches of the tips and set aside. Chop the rest of the stems.
  3. When the water comes to the boil, put the tips in and let them cook for about 3 minutes or until tender. Pull them out with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain. Add the chopped stalks and let them cook for about 7 minutes or until tender. Pull them out, drain, rinse with cold water and reserve separately.
  4. Puree the asparagus stems with the lemon juice and the olive oil in a blender or food processor until smooth. If it looks a bit too thick, add some of the pasta water. Taste for seasoning.
  5. Cook the pasta according to how you like it and drain. Stir in the asparagus sauce, the tips and the grated cheese. Give it a good stir and serve.
  6. Enjoy!

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