Pasta with Asparagus Ends

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We love green asparagus, especially when they are grilled on the BBQ, but every time I prepare them, it bothers me to discard the ends. About 40% of the weight is discarded that way. And so I wanted to experiment to see whether something edible could be made from green asparagus ends. I decided to pressure cook them (regular boiling would also work, but would take twice as long), then blend them, and finally sieve them to get rid of any tough fibers. I used the resulting thick asparagus stock to dress spaghetti. The result was tasty enough, but I was a bit disappointed that the asparagus flavor was quite faint. Perhaps I should not have chosen wholewheat spaghetti, but pasta with less flavor. Still at least this is a way to reduce waste. If you don’t have enough asparagus ends from eating them once, you can of course freeze the ends until you have saved up enough.

Ingredients

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For 2 servings

600 grams (1.3 lbs) green asparagus ends (from about 1.5 kilos (3.3 lbs) of green asparagus)

50 grams chopped onion (about 1/2 cup)

150 grams of spaghetti, I used wholewheat

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

freshly grated parmigiano reggiano

green asparagus tips for garnish (optional)

Instructions

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Put 600 grams of asparagus ends in a stock pot or pressure cooker and add 250 ml (1 cup) of water.

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Bring to a boil or bring to pressure…

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…and cook until asparagus are somewhat tender, about 20 minutes in the pressure cooker or 45 minutes of regular boiling.

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Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and add 50 grams of chopped onion.

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Cook the onion over low heat while the asparagus is cooking, until it is slightly golden.

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When the asparagus are cooked, put them in a blender with all the liquid from the pot, together with the onions.

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Blend until smooth (you will still notice some fibers).

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Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and spaghetti and asparagus tips (if using), and cook for about 5 minutes. (The timing depends on the cooking time indicated on the package. 5 minutes is about right for the green asparagus. The spaghetti should be cooked at least 3 minutes less than the time indicated on the package.)

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Meanwhile, sieve the asparagus puree using a foodmill.

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You will notice that despite the long cooking, there will still be tough fibers to discard.

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Bring the asparagus stock to a boil.

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Drain the spaghetti and add it to the asparagus stock. Reserve the asparagus tips, if using, and keep them warm.

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Finish cooking the spaghetti in the asparagus stock over high heat, gently stirring constantly. When the spaghetti is cooked, the asparagus stock should have reduced to become a thick sauce. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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Add a handful of freshly grated parmigiano, and stir to mix.

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Serve on preheated plates, garnished with the asparagus tips (if using) and some more freshly grated parmigiano.

Flashback

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In Italy, ravioli with a seafood stuffing are usually made with potato rather than ricotta and/or egg to bind the stuffing. For these fish ravioli with seafood I selected seabream (orata) to stuff the homemade fresh ravioli, and I served them with a seafood sauce. You could also use another white fish such as sole or sea bass. Clams and mussels are great because they are not only delicious, but also come with their own built-in sauce. This dish is packed with flavor and absolutely worth the effort. The delicate ravioli pair wonderfully well with the tasty seafood sauce. I prepared this for my Italian friends, and they loved it.

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20 thoughts on “Pasta with Asparagus Ends

      1. No I do believe he means The Frugal Gourmet of the Jeff Smith fame. He had both a TV show (in the 1908s) and cookbooks, but later in life got into some kind of scandal that I ignored because his shows and cookbooks were awesome. I have three of his books that I reference all the time and they are not just cookbooks but have great stories to go with the recipes.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Yep, was taught the ‘snap’ method a very long time ago. Yep, guess where the ‘stalky’ bits’ went! Yep, should have known better 🙂 ! This is rather fab: thanks!! Guess: what next ? !!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, you can. With this method you will get more out of the asparagus though; I only had about 20% fibers I had to discard at the end (so less than 10% of the original weight of the asparagus). As a matter of fact, this technique could also be used to make a stronger vegetable stock. It won’t be clear, but for many recipes that is not a problem. I feel another post coming up, thanks for the inspiration 🙂

      Like

  2. So smart. I do something similar – when I make an asparagus soup, I always make a broth with the asparagus ends, onion, and so forth, and use that broth to puree the soup. I did have a post on this, but it might be one I deleted because of the terrible photography!

    Like

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