With the arrival of Spring comes an abundance of Australian grown asparagus, rather than the wilted imported stuff we get a lot of the year. Often I gently bake it with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, but that evening I felt like throwing it in some pasta. I chose casarecce, but any short pasta will work well. The ricotta can be done a day ahead. Serves four.
250g fresh ricotta, well drained
Salt and pepper
3 bunches of asparagus, cut into 3cm length
500g casarecce, or pasta of your choice
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 tbps olive oil
Half a cup of finely chopped flat leaf parsley
3/4 cup finely grated parmesan
2 tbps finely graded lemon zest (optional, or to taste)
1. For the ricotta, add a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper and combine. Place in a mini cake tin or loaf pan sprayed with olive oil, and bake in a 200 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool in tin then remove and refrigerate until ready to use.
2. For the breadcrumb topping, heat the olive oil in a small pan, and gently fry the bread crumbs until golden and crunchy. Place in a bowl and allow to cool. Add the parsley, parmesan and lemon zest and combine.
3. Blanch the asparagus for a minute in a pot of boiling water, remove with a slotted spoon, and set aside. You can then use this water to cook your pasta
4. While the pasta is cooking, in a frypan, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and fry the asparagus for 3 or so minutes. Add the drained cooked pasta once read, crumble in the baked ricotta, season and drizzle with a little more olive oil if desired, and serve. Top with the desired amount of the breadcrumb mix.