Pasta with Ham and Asparagus

Generally, the fewer the ingredients in a dish, the more crucial the quality of those ingredients.  When asparagus is picked the same day it’s cooked, it’s a totally different vegetable than the asparagus most of us are accustomed to eating year-round.  This asparagus is downright sweet and mild. 

The ham I’m using is from my local Italian gourmet market (Citarella) where there is always a ham on the bone, that is freshly carved to order.  It too is sweet and mild–not too salty or porky (not that there’s anything wrong with either of those things).

Together, the ham and asparagus make a wonderful pair, and what better to marry them than butter.  Tossed over dried or fresh fettucine, this dish is luxurious yet very simple and quick to make.  Lots of grated  parmiggiano is necessary to sprinkle on top.

I served this with the wonderful salad below.

Pasta with Ham and Asparagus

serves 4

1 lb dried fettucine (or fresh)

1/2 lb ham cubes

1 1/2 lbs fresh asparagus, peeled and cut into small pieces

6 tbls butter

1/4 c chicken broth

1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

In salted boiling water, blanch asparagus for 4 – 6 minutes, depending on thickness.   Remove and add pasta to boiling water.

In a skillet large enough to hold pasta, melt butter and simmer cubes of ham on low heat for about 5 minutes.  Add asparagus and continue simmering until pasta is almost cooked.  Add broth, then toss in cooked pasta, along with 1/4 cup  cooking liquid.  Stir and combine for a minute.  Serve topped with lots of grated parmiggiano.

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