It's almost change the clocks time which means we are definitely heading into the heart of spring. And as we move our way into the season, I have to ask the question,
Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?
Let me confess to you right off the bat - my garden grows DESPITE my best efforts. I am a plant killer, assassin if you will. If you want a plant to die, bring it to me. I just don't have that "green thumb" thing going on, and even though Parents both have it to the fullest, I do not. But I do have a small backyard (very small) with green foliage (that gets watered automatically by sprinklers, sporadically by rain, and intermittently by Children) and some brown dirt stuff, which means, technically, YES I could grow something.
One of the lessons they teach in Children's school, is the "cycle of life" in terms of seeds, planting and fruit. Which means, upon learning this amazing lesson of, "If you plant a seed in the ground it will grow," Children insist on planting all the different fruit seeds from their mouth into our yard in various places. Thus far, we have planted pears, apples, plums, strawberries,cantaloupe, half of a banana, (because Son couldn't exactly figure out where the seed was and figured the entire banana was good) avocado (my idea - since I'm an addict) and nothing has grown. I'm not surprised of course, because it is my yard after all (and plants FEAR ME.)
But this spring, I vowed I'd be different. I vowed that I'd clean out one crazy end of my yard where random stuff grows and begin planting some stuff. And then Mom in law showed up with little Korean lettuce seedlings, and said that she was going to plant them. I must have had a look of fear after her pronouncement of the planting, because she hastily reassured me, "Don't worry. It's easy. You just have to let them get settled in and then watch them grow." I must have looked doubtful, because her additional reassurance was, "If you kill them, I have some growing in your sister-in-law's yard. Don't worry." My doubtful look had less to do with where I was going to get more of the Korean lettuce, and more having to do the potential multiple murder charge that would be brought against me after killing all the plants. Either way, it did not bode well for me.
In addition to the lettuce now growing in our backyard, the former owners of our house I believe planted asparagus - something like 20 years ago. And the asparagus still grows, and right now it is the season for it. There isn't a lot of it, but Children have been so excited about harvesting their own asparagus, they've insisted that I cook it. They go out, pick one or two spears and insist on it becoming a part of their meal. Of course one or two spears isn't enough to make anything really, but I do add it to whatever other asparagus (which is wonderfully in season now) I've got cooking, and the kids proudly declare, "We grew this asparagus in our garden" while I mutter, "Only two spears worth."
This is one of the pasta dishes I made to go around the asparagus. I've found myself in recent days really enjoying super crisp bacon that is allowed just to be bacon-y, hence the reason why I'm cooking it separately from the asparagus. I also like the delicate flavor of the asparagus and shallots to shine, another reason why the bacon is cooked separately, and the fat is drained. You are certainly welcome to leave out the cream (as I do for Son), but the creamy finish with the asparagus is delicious. And for the record -there is a LOT of asparagus in this pasta, because I LOVE IT, and I want all of that extra vegetable goodness with the pasta. If you are not an asparagus lover, then go ahead and use only half the amount I used.
Pasta with Asparagus, Shallots, and Bacon
Serves 4 to 6
4 oz bacon, chopped into tiny pieces, excess fat trimmed if desired (you need some for it to be yummy, but you can cut some off)
1 pound pasta like penne, farfalle, rotini, fusilli
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
2 lbs of asparagus, cut into ½ inch pieces
Freshly ground pepper
¾ cup of heavy cream OR ½ cup chicken stock for a dairy free option
½ cup shaved Parmigiano Reggiano to sprinkle on top
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite, 8 to 10 minutes.
While pasta is cooking, in a fry pan, over medium high heat, cook bacon until it is golden and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow bacon to drain on a paper towel.
In the same pot you cooked the pasta, heat olive oil and add chopped shallots and cook for 30 seconds, and add asparagus all at once. Cook asparagus until it is bright green and tender, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Add pasta and toss together. Add cream (or chicken stock) and mix together until all the pasta is coated.