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Fresh Fettuccine with Asparagus, Lemon, Pine Nuts & Mascarpone


Serves 4

Asparagus and bright lemon give a rich dish a fresh spin. Mascarpone cheese is an Italian cream cheese. It usually comes in a plastic tub and is available at most supermarkets. Grana Padano is a hard Italian grating cheese similar to Parmigiano-Reggiano but with a less bold flavor and a lower price.

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil; more for the pan
  • 2 lb. medium-thick asparagus, ends trimmed, cut in 1-inch pieces on an angle
  • 8 scallions (whites and tender greens), cut in thin rounds
  • Finely grated zest from 2 lemons
  • Juice from 1 lemon (about 4 Tbs.)
  • A few sprigs fresh thyme or savory, leaves chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup mascarpone
  • 1 cup grated Grana Padano cheese
  • Small pinch cayenne
  • Generous pinch ground allspice
  • 3/4 cup homemade breadcrumbs
  • 1 lb. fresh fettuccine
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

Heat the oven to 450°F. Lightly coat a large, shallow baking dish with olive oil. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and blanch until tender but with a slight bite left to it, about 2 minutes. Scoop it from the water with a large slotted spoon, set it in a colander, and run it under cold water to preserve its green color. Drain well. Keep the water boiling for the pasta.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the scallions; sauté 1 minute to soften. Add the asparagus and sauté briefly, about 1 minute. Take the skillet off the heat and add half the zest, the lemon juice, thyme, salt, and pepper; mix well and reserve.

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter and flour over medium heat, whisking until smooth. Cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly, to cook away the raw taste of the flour. Add the milk and cook, whisking all the while, until it comes to a boil. Lower the heat a bit and cook until smooth and lightly thickened (about the consistency of heavy cream), 3 or 4 minutes.

Fresh Fettuccine with Asparagus, Lemon, Pine Nuts & Mascarpone Recipe Fresh Fettuccine with Asparagus, Lemon, Pine Nuts & Mascarpone Recipe
To make a béchamel, stir milk into a butter and flour roux. A thin sauce is what you're after. Cook it until it has the consistency of heavy cream.

Turn off the heat and add the mascarpone, the remaining lemon zest, and 1/2 cup of the Grana Padano, whisking until the mixture is fairly smooth (there will be a slight grainy texture from the cheese). Season with the cayenne, allspice, and more salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and the remaining Grana Padano. Season with salt and pepper and add a drizzle of olive oil. Mix well.

Return the cooking water to a full boil and cook the fettuccine, leaving it slightly underdone. Drain well. Return the fettuccine to the cooking pot. Add the mascarpone sauce, the pine nuts, and the asparagus with all its juices. Toss and taste for seasoning. Pour into the baking dish and sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the top. Bake uncovered until bubbling and golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve right away.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with a Classic Caesar Salad.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on four servings, Calories (kcal): 1040, Fat (kcal): 57, Fat Calories (g): 520, Saturated Fat (g): 29, Protein (g): 39, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 16, Carbohydrates (mg): 96, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 10, Sodium (g): 770, Cholesterol (g): 195, Fiber (g): 13,

Photo: Scott Phillips

Loved the flavors of this but can only give it three stars because of the following reasons. First, as noted by other reviewers, it turned out dry. I used the amount of fresh pasta called for in the recipe. It was too much. I think if I make this again I will add the pasta in increments until I get to a good ratio of pasta to sauce. Second, this is prep intensive and makes a huge mess. But the flavor was good. I did add chopped garlic to the scallions & asparagus mixture. And I was generous with the fresh thyme.

Expensive Ingredients, lots of work, and the flavors overpower each other. I don't usually follow a recipe to a "T", but this time I did and I regret it. You don't need to use Mascarpone. Cream Cheese will do just fine. Maybe put the pine nuts on the top so you get maximum flavor from them. The Grana Padano Cheese is hard without much oil, so mixing bread crumbs with it resulted in a dry, dusty topping. Maybe next time mix the breadcrumbs with a little butter first, or omit bread crumbs and just top with extra cheese. It was okay, but not the awesome dish that I expected and wanted it to be. Definitely serves at least 6. This was my approx. cost: Grana Padano $6 Mascarpone $5 Pine Nuts $5 Asparagus $8 Pasta $2.50 Lemon $0.50 Misc. $2 TOTAL: $29

Made this for a vegetarian guest the other day. I used the info in the linked article to prep all the ingredients ahead, then mixed and baked just before she arrived. It has great, full flavor, and even my (anti-vegetarian) husband loved it. But "serves four"?! I don't think so. More like six to eight. We're still working on leftovers.

Wonderful, wonderful....VERY rich ....with vegetarians in famliy, other forget that they are not eating meat.! ! !

We loved the flavor of this dish, however, after baking it for 15 minutes it became a little dry. I would bake for less time or cover it for most of the baking time in order to keep it moist. All in all, it was a crowd pleaser

A lot of work for just okay.

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