Asparagus, that elegant vegetable.
Whenever I asked my family if they had a preference for dinner and before I could barely finish my sentence, they would cheer in unison, "PASTA!" As if they were the entire population of Italy who hadn't had pasta for the last million years. I am not joking.
Honestly, my family is not French, they would easily give up their baguettes and cheese for pasta any day of the year. Sacha would have pasta for breakfast every day if I had let him.
I remember having a dinner party, where it was the first time some guests were to come to our home. I made pasta with smoked salmon, in a tarragon cream sauce. As I was tossing the pasta I overheard them say that their family was from Italy and that their mother made their pasta daily from scratch. With that I nearly dropped the pasta bowl on the floor.
I should have chucked my pasta, right then and there, out the window. I would have if it hadn't been for the smoked salmon.
They talked on and on about how only Italians can cook pasta al dente. I figured we lived close enough to the Italian border, and since I cook pasta several times a week I needn't worry... I swallowed hard, I looked at my pretty pasta, tasted one, it had a chew to it. I carried it to the table and served it.
Unfortunately, it did not pass their "al dente perfection need" and they barely ate it. I was embarrassed and kinda sad to boot. I looked at their untouched smoked salmon. I imagined how I could save that untouched, beautiful, smoked salmon from going into the garbage. I wished I had a cat. Poor salmon's life ending in a garbage.
Later, Sacha would reassure me that I was not a bad cook, that I was oversensitive and that my pasta was the best in the world. Then he said,
"Well, at least we know who won't be coming to dinner again."
Sacha will be home this Friday for a brief holiday. He sent a list of dishes he wants me to make. Pasta is on the top of the list, and nearly every other word.
It does not surprise me. Because if he hadn't requested pasta I would have thought something was wrong.
Silly to say, each time I make pasta I recall our al dente guests and watch the pot like it is the last supper on earth. I gotta wash that crummy memory down the drain.
Pasta with elegant Asparagus very al dente.
Cook Pasta, a few minutes less than what is written on the box.
While the water is doing its best to boil prepare the sauce.
Saute a hearty handful of pine nuts, and put aside,
Saute strips of smoked salmon,
When the pasta water begins to boil add salt to the water.
Pour cream into a pan and heat,
Cut the steamed asparagus in bite-able sizes...al dente asparagus that is!!
Before the cream starts to roll and tumble wildly, add the asparagus, pine nuts, smoked salmon and a tad of tarragon to it, let it simmer and thicken.
Drain the pasta, add a touch of olive oil and Parmesan toss, then add the asparagus cream sauce.