Monday, May 3, 2010

Pasta with asparagus, bresaola and smoked gouda

Asparagus tips

Aaah, asparagus. Is there any more longed for harbinger of spring? I made pasta with asparagus last year, but I went slightly heavier this year - no pea shoots and lettuce, this time we're using smoked cheese and cured beef! Mmmm, charcuterie...


This is a riff on a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis that I used to make all. the. time. I even suggested it to an old house mate as a simple and delicious meal to impress a date. From what I remember, he was impressed. I, however was NOT impressed when she left the resulting dishes in the sink for three days, but that's a story for another time. Anyway, I couldn't find smoked mozzarella at the store, so I used smoked gouda. Mozzarella is meltier, but gouda worked fine. For the sake of pork avoidance, I used bresaola, a cured beef salumi instead of prosciutto. It's not the same; bresaola is distinctly beefy, but it filled the salty fatty meaty hole left by prosciutto.

Meat mosaic
I got the bresaola at Dave's Fresh Pasta right in Davis Square, which is also where I picked up this, uh, fresh pasta. This made an obscene amount of food, much more than we needed. When I bought the fresh pasta, the woman at the shop suggested 1 1/3 pounds for 4 people (I wanted dinner for two + leftovers), but we got 7 (admittedly not enormous) servings out of that much pasta. It was good enough for us to eat for a few days later, but it certainly was not as good reheated as freshly cooked. If you do use that much pasta, use two bunches of asparagus and a bit more cheese.

Pasta with asparagus, bresaola and smoked gouda

Pasta with Asparagus, Bresaola and Smoked Gouda
I originally found this recipe in one of Giada's cookbooks and she suggests you make it with penne or ziti to mimic the shape of the asparagus. I think it's very good with penne, but I liked it with fresh pasta quite a bit. She would also have you saute some minced garlic in olive oil and toss the whole mess in that pan, but I skipped garlic and drizzled olive oil on at the end. If you have fresh basil or parsley on hand (I didn't), a tablespoon or two of slivered herbs works very well, toss it with the pasta just before serving.

1/2-3/4 pound fresh pasta (I used a variety with black pepper in the dough)
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends removed, cut into 1 1/2 inch long pieces
scant 1/4 lb bresaola (or prosciutto) cut into strips
3 oz smoked gouda (or smoked mozzarella), cut in small (1/4 inch) cubes
olive oil
salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the fresh pasta, then 1 minute later add the asparagus pieces. When fresh pasta is cooked through (taste to check, it should only take another two or three minutes after you add the asparagus), and the asparagus is crisp-tender, reserve a cup of the cooking water, then drain pasta and asparagus.

Return to pot, add strips of bresaola and cubed cheese, toss with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste (I used 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and 8-9 grinds black pepper). Remember that the meat is quite salty, and if you've salted your pasta cooking water well you shouldn't need much salt at this point. Taste, add more salt or pepper if necessary or pasta cooking water if it seems dry, then serve.


  1. Do you think this would be ok without the meat? It sounds wonderful... and I like the idea of doing a black pepper pasta.

  2. Brian I think it would absolutely be ok without the meat! I would maybe do the garlic thing, though, or add basil. And you'll probably need to salt more heavily than I did. Let me know how it works out if you do!

  3. This looks amazing, like the fanciest carbonara! You had me at smoked gouda :)

  4. We've been eating something similar because pasta + asparagus just makes everything so much better.

  5. Thank you! I had bought some sliced bresaola out of curiosity and didn't like it very much as-is, but this pasta dish saved it.