The original idea was to spruce up a standard asparagus and lemon pasta dish with capers and prosciutto. Something about the briny punch of the capers and the salty funk of the meat sounded appealing when paired with the usually reserved and straight-laced green stalks. But as usual, I wanted to add too many other ingredients, before realizing that I just needed to focus on the essentials.
Since capers have enough flavor as it is, all they need is to cook in some good butter. Fold in the pieces of prosciutto at the very end, along with the lemon juice and zest. To help pull everything together, make sure to save some of the pasta water. It helps create a light sauce, which coats the pasta when you finish it off in the skillet.
- Yield:serves 4
- Active time: 10 minutes
- Total time:15 minutes
- 1 1/2 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed, stalks and tips cut into 1-inch segments
- 3/4 pound dried linguini
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- 1 tablespoon juice and 1 teaspoon zest from 1 lemon
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Grated parmesan, for serving
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare an ice bath. Add asparagus and cook until bright green and tender, about 2 minutes. Remove with a wire mesh strainer and transfer to an ice bath. When cold, drain in a colander, and then dry on paper towels. Set aside.
Bring water back to a boil and add pasta. Cook according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. When done, drain pasta in a colander.
Meanwhile, heat butter in a 12-inch skillet set over medium until melted. Add capers and cook until very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add asparagus and cook with the capers, tossing occasionally, until warm.
Pour pasta water into skillet and bring to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and stir continuously, until water has reduced to a creamy sauce. Turn off the heat and stir in the pieces of prosciutto, lemon juice, lemon zest, and remaining tablespoon of butter. Taste and season with salt. Serve with grated parmesan.