Posted by: Anja | October 21, 2010

Experimenting with Flavors

I’ve done loads of pasta in recent months, but I always try to figure out a way to make them interesting even though I might just be trying to get rid of a couple of ingredients. This time, my choice of ingredients fell on asparagus, mushrooms and walnuts, as I had much of these left over from a risotto and pasta cooking event a few days back. There, I had done an asparagus lemon pasta dish, my gorgonzola and caramelized onions risotto and a mushroom and peas risotto. I think that every dish was really a success, even though my guests seemed most surprised that lemon and asparagus works that well together with pasta.

Back to todays dish: Integrating left-over ingredients from other dishes into a pasta dish. Basically, just think about a theme – here Asian style but still European pasta (very exact, right? ;) ) – and then prepare your ingredients accordingly. So for example, I used toasted sesame oil for this dish, to give it an Asian touch and prepared the mushrooms together with the walnuts and again a bit sesame oil. I’d definitely advise you just to try a couple of things and test which ingredients go together. After a while, you get an exact feeling for what you like and it helps you a lot to come up with a delicious meal at any time.

Asparagus, Mushroom and Walnut Pasta

125g whole wheat pasta
50g green asparagus
50g mushrooms
30g walnuts
30g gruyère cheese
3 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil
black pepper
salt
optional: 2 scallions

First step: Start by removing the ends of the asparagus and cutting it into small pieces. Slice the mushrooms and the scallions if using, then chop the walnuts and set aside everything separately. Bring water in a large pot to a boil and when it starts boiling, heat a medium-sized pan to medium heat.

Second step: Salt the water and put in the pasta, let cook according to directions (mostly 8-10 minutes). When the pan is heated, add one tablespoon of sesame oil and the mushrooms and let brown, stirring from time to time for 2-3 minutes. Add the walnuts and stir again occasionally from time to time. Grate the cheese in the meantime and put aside. Add the asparagus to the pasta (generally: add the asparagus 3 minutes before the pasta is done).

Third step: Add the scallions to your pan, if using and keep on stirring until your pasta is done. The mushrooms should be brown at that point. If they are not, wait for them to be finished, as it is necessary, that they are browned. It shouldn’t take longer than another 2-3 minutes though. Drain the pasta and asparagus then add the rest of the sesame oil to the now empty pot and pour the asparagus and pasta back in.

Fourth step: Use a spoon to combine everything, then add the content of your pan and stir again. Sprinkle cheese, black pepper and salt on top and stir again, then serve immediately.

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