Hazelnuts and asparagus ribbons dress up pasta
Familiar formulas need not be boring. Certainly not that almost foolproof vegetarian standby, pasta.
Boiling water is the basic effort called for. After that, pasta is easily, infinitely variable. It's an ideal starting point for creative tinkering, pretty well guaranteed to please most diners with wonderfully little real extra work.
Perfect example: Whole-wheat spaghetti with hazelnuts and asparagus is a simply distinctive entree to make in 20 minutes flat.
The whole-wheat spaghetti is super nutritious. Hazelnuts are a crunchy surprise (although pine nuts may be used if that's more convenient). What also makes the dish special is a favorite spring ingredient, asparagus — shaved into long ribbons.
The recipe is from the June issue of Real Simple magazine, in the monthly feature offering recipes and strategies for weeknight dinners.
The editors give us a tip with this recipe, for toasting the hazelnuts: Place them on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven until they're barely browned and fragrant, 7 to 12 minutes. To remove the skins, transfer the hot nuts to a large kitchen towel, fold one end over the nuts and rub briskly.
WHOLE-WHEAT SPAGHETTI WITH HAZELNUTS AND ASPARAGUS
Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions. Meanwhile, with a vegetable peeler, shave the asparagus lengthwise into long ribbons. Add the asparagus to the pasta water during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain the spaghetti and asparagus and return them to the pot. Add the oil and hazelnuts; toss. Season with the salt and pepper; toss again. Divide the spaghetti among individual plates. With the peeler, shave the parmesan over the top.
Makes 4 servings.