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Tagliatelli Agli Asparagi
(Fresh Pasta with Asparagus)

Italians have a really bad habit (just a joke) of using whatever is in season and turning it into a tasty dish that is usually simple and easy, yet truly delicious. When the Weaver Street Market features baby asparagus at the right price, nothing beats this plate of pasta, whether you eat it as a main course, or as a first course (Italians always eat pasta as their first course-their second course is usually a protein and a side dish). Are you ready?

- 1 lb fresh fettucini egg pasta (we call it tagliatelli - they call it fettucini - it is the same)
- baby asparagus (1 bunch) washed
- butter (2 sticks ought to do it)
- fresh, hand-grated parmigiano
- freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Start by putting up a big pot of water to boil. When the water starts to boil, add enough salt (probably at least 2 palm-fuls of kosher salt) to make it taste like salt water. This is what makes your pasta taste great. Start cooking your pasta. It will be cooked after it turns white (about 6 or 7 minutes) but keeps its 'al dente' chewiness. Don't mark my words about cooking times; taste it yourself. Overcooking pasta will just make it taste mushy.
At the same time, you can start preparing your baby asparagus. Hold the asparagus bunch by the tips. Hold onto the bunch and pull one spear toward you. What you want to do is to snap off the tough end (usually 3 or 4 inches from the bottom) and leave the tender part on. It will happen naturally; where the tough and the tender meet is where the asparagus breaks. Don't be afraid to throw the tough end away, we only wanted the tender half anyway.
Either steam or boil the asparagus (I have a cooking tip that I am almost ashamed to pass on; if you put a little bit {about 1/2 teaspoon} of baking soda in the water when it is boiling, the asparagus will stay nice and green - although it may lose some of its nutritional value) until almost tender. Remove the spears from the water and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Melt the butter either in the microwave or on the stovetop. Pasta should be ready by now.
Drain it and put it in bowls. (I like shallow bowls because they make it easy to eat pasta). Split your asparagus into 4 even portions on the pasta. Be generous when you pour your butter on. You are using it as a sauce.
Now add your parmigiano cheese. If, after you mix all of these ingredients the pasta is still nice and moist, then you HAVE put enough butter on. If you need more butter, add it!
Last, but not least - a little black pepper on top always brings out the flavor of the dish. This recipe serves 4.

Buon Appetito!
And remember - cook with love AND DON'T BE CHEAP!


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