Pasta With Garlic, Tomato, Basil and Asparagus

There are plenty of recipes and techniques for making a simple pasta dish with basil and tomato. Michael Ruhlman, author of many great cookbooks and cooking non-fiction, published a recipe this week on his website for Pasta with Garlic, Basil and Tomato Water. There's a quickie video from an iphone, which makes the technique even clearer.

I had that recipe mind, but had too few tomatoes on hand to generate as much liquid as I'd need (only two average sized plum tomatoes). But I had some asparagus. So a marriage ensued among asparagus and about half the Tomato Water approach.

2-3 plum tomatoes, diced
1 few tablespoons of finely diced basil
  • Toss tomatoes, basil and a generous amount of sea salt into a bowl.
  • Let tomatoes sit for 20-30 minutes to release juices
1 pound asparagus, trimmed
  • Prepare an ice bath. (Bowl of water + ice cubes. But it sounds fancy and professional, doesn't it?)
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil
  • Cook asparagus in boiling water for 2 minutes. Test for doneness. Cook another minute if needed.
  • Retrieve asparagus with a spider strainer or tongs. Immediately place in ice bath to stop cooking.
1 pound pasta, such as angel hair or linguine
  • Cook per package directions
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
A handful of torn or chopped basil, to taste
3 tablespoons butter, cut into several pieces
  • Heat garlic in olive oil until slightly golden.
  • Hold a large strainer over the hot pan.
  • Pour tomatoes into a strainer, allowing juices to fall into the pan.
  • Add basil, salt and pepper. 
  • Allow juices to combine with garlic and tomato juices (tomato water :) )
  • Add butter and swirl pan continuously to melt, but keep butter emulsified.
  • Add reserved asparagus pieces and put in sauce to slightly warm, while butter melts.
  • Toss together sauce and pasta.

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