There are occasionally those weekends where I like to spend a few hours messing around in the kitchen as a way to relax. And, one of the best ways for me to do that is to make fresh pasta. I’ve always liked making pasta by hand, kinda mindless and methodical, messy and tactile. Just think of it as adult Play-Doh, except the end result is delicious, unlike the kids’ version. Anyone who’s tried a sample of Play-Doh knows what I’m talking about here.
I get that the thought of making fresh pasta for some is far from a relaxing endeavor. If that’s the case, and you still want to make this, just bypass the whole pasta making part, buy some fresh pasta or use a box of the dried stuff and just focus on making the sauce. It’ll be delicious either route you choose. And truthfully, this is the first time I’ve made this using fresh pasta, I usually just grab a box of linguine or farfalle.
I first made this after I saw a recipe for lemon linguine. It had a lemon and cream sauce, which looked delish, but I didn’t have any cream so I just compensated with some extra cheese and when I went to eat it, I realized it was kinda like cacio e pepe, or rather cacio e limone. After that I made another version for Ry and I and wanted to add in some veg, so I threw in some asparagus and was so psyched with how it turned out that I was determined to do a post on it with some fresh pasta once I had the sauce all thought out. And, that’s what you have here.
I’ve always liked making pasta by hand, kinda mindless and methodical, messy and tactile. Just think of it as adult Play-Doh, except the end result is delicious, unlike the kids' version. Anyone who's tried a sample of Play-Doh knows what I’m talking about here.
You can easily take the long or short route with this recipe. Either spend a few hours making the pasta if you like, or if you just want to get to the eating part, make the sauce and use some good boxed pasta.
Asparagus & Lemon Garganelli
with black pepper & parmigiano
Special Equipment: Gnocchi Board or the back of a fork to get those nice ridges on the garganelli.
- 3 c flour
- 3 eggs
- generous pinch of salt
- tsp olive oil
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 2-3 lemons
- Olive oil
You can think of this recipe in two parts, the first being the actual pasta making portion, which you can feel free to skip if you like, and then the saucing if you will.
The Pasta Part
I prefer to make the pasta dough in a food processor, less cleanup, and super fast. Combine your eggs, flour, salt and a dash of olive oil into the processor and pulse a few times. It should look slightly crumbly. Next run the processor and drizzle in the water. I used a little less than half cup, but you may need slightly more or less depending on how large your eggs are, how humid it is that day, etc. Just add enough so that a your dough is almost forming a ball. You’ll want it to hold together when you pinch a small portion of the mixture. I think that the key to good fresh pasta is to add in as little water as possible and making sure to add in enough salt, you want the pasta to have some flavor on its own, and not just taste like some bland, boiled dough when it’s cooked.
Next you can go ahead and dump out your dough mixture on a flat surface, sprinkled with a little flour and kneed away. I recommend about 10 mins. You want it to be a smooth ball that bounces back when you poke it. Next wrap it in plastic, and let sit for at least 30 minutes in the fridge. Make sure to let the dough rest or else it’ll be a total nightmare to work with.
Once your dough is rested you’re ready to get rolling. Either using a rolling pin, or a pasta maker, roll out sheets of dough about 1mm thick. Not too thin, not too thick, don’t overthink it. To shape the pasta you want to cut out roughly 2” squares of pasta then roll the ends around your pinkly finger, or use the end of a wooden spoon like I did, to get a nice tube with points on the end. And, to get that ridged texture you can either use an gnocchi board or the back of a fork. I would do that extra bit for the texture, it helps the sauce stick, and if you’ve gone through all the effort to make the pasta this far, why slack now?
The Saucy Bit
Ok, pasta is made, or you have a box ready and available (no judgement either way), now onto the saucy part. Grill you asparagus so it has a slight charr on it and then slice it into 2” pieces on the diagonal. Once your asparagus is done, set it in a bowl off to the side. And, since you already have the grill heated up I would recommend adding a few lemon halves on there to charr up as well.
Next, add a good bit of butter and olive oil to a cold pan along with zest of 1 lemon. Turn the heat to medium-low and let the oil and butter warm up and infuse with the zest. That should take about 3-5 mins. Once your lemony oil is done you can go ahead and get your pasta cooking. It should only take a few minutes if you are using the fresh stuff, and be sure to season the cooking water with some salt.
Once your pasta is al dente, turn your oil/sauce pan on medium heat, add in the pasta and about a half cup of the starchy cooking liquid and stir like crazy. You want it to get nice and starchy from the pasta rubbing against one another. After about a minute, take your pan off the heat, dump in a generous handful of that cheese, and stir some more until it all looks nice and creamy. You can then go ahead and add in your asparagus, the zest of another lemon, lots of black pepper and a good squeeze of that grilled lemon juice. I used the juice from a whole lemon, but taste it and see what you like. Next plate it up, top with some additional cheese and lemon zest, and a good drizzle of olive oil. Eat up!