Photo : Tagliatelle with Asparagus and Shiitake Mushrooms
I’m just about all ‘kaled’ out. We have eaten some amount of kale and spinach in the last six weeks and I am almost happy to see the plants bolt. We will miss them but the new baby salad leaves and rocket are much more exciting.
There’s not much else ready to pick in the garden at this time of the year unless you are lucky enough to have an asparagus patch. We don’t. I tried to grow asparagus some years back but eventually lost patience and pulled it all up. There never seemed to be enough for dinner, just the odd alien popping up here and there but not enough for a bunch.
Luckily there are successful asparagus growers in West Cork and now is the time to grab a bunch before it’s moment of glory passes and there’s another years wait.
This month’s recipe is a kind of vegetable carbonara, a bit of an oxymoran as any self-respecting Italian will tell you that carbonara only has four ingredients – eggs, pancetta, pecorino or parmesan and spaghetti but as with all recipes tweaking can produce great results.
I have used asparagus and locally grown shiitake mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms are feather light when fresh but become meaty and super tasty when cooked. They are available from the olive stall in the markets and the Olive Branch in Clonakilty. Any long wiggly pasta will work for this recipe. If you get your timing right this dish can be cooked in the time that it takes to cook your pasta
Tagliatelle with Asparagus and Shiitake Mushrooms
1 small onion
7-8 stems asparagus
100g shiitake mushrooms
50mls olive oil
50g grated parmesan or pecorino
salt and cracked black pepper
Put a large saucepan of water on to boil, ready to cook the pasta.
Peel and finely chop the onion.
Snap the tough end from the asparagus and discard or put aside to make soup. Chop the rest of the asparagus in 3-4cm pieces.
Slice the shiitake mushrooms.
In a small bowl mix the egg yolks, cream and grated cheese.
The vegetables are going to take roughly eight minutes to cook so now is the moment to decide when to add your pasta to the boiling water. Read the packet, add a large spoonful of salt to the water and cook the pasta according to the instructions – the vegetables can spend a minute or two resting whilst the pasta finishes cooking if needed.
Heat a large frying pan or skillet and add the olive oil. When the pan is hot add the asparagus and cook for three to four minutes stirring every now and again. Season with salt and cracked black pepper and put aside. Next melt the butter in the pan and add chopped onion and the shiitake, mushrooms, cook on a high heat for three or four minutes, season with salt and cracked black pepper then put the asparagus back in. Take the pan off the heat.
Before draining the pasta reserve a few spoonfuls of the cooking water.
Drain the pasta, add to the vegetables and the egg mix then toss together adding some of the reserved water to get a creamy dressing.
Enjoy the longer days and better weather!
Lettercollum Kitchen Project
22 Connolly Street