Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables. They are sweet and tender and work with so many different flavor profiles. They are an excellent source of vitamin K, folate, vitamin C and vitamin A. Asparagus is great for heart health, nourishes our digestive tract and it’s high folate content is essential for expecting mothers. Asparagus also contains fiber, many B vitamins and is an excellent anti-inflammatory.
- 2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut on a diagonal into small pieces (about 6 cups)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound orzo*
- 1 8-ounce container mascarpone cheese
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- sea salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450°F. Place asparagus on a baking dish and toss to coat with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until asparagus is tender, about 10 minutes. (Can be prepared ahead; let stand at room temperature.)
Cook orzo in large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain orzo, reserving 1 cup cooking water. Return orzo to the pot and stir in mascarpone, 2/3 grated Parmesan cheese, asparagus and 3 tablespoons chives. Toss over medium-low heat until pasta is coated with sauce and mixture is heated through, adding reserved cooking water by 1/4 cupfuls until the sauce is to your liking. (I usually use ¾ of cooking water total because the orzo soaks up the sauce. Although it looks moist in the beginning, it definitely needs the extra water to keep it from drying out.) This should take about 3 minutes.
Mound orzo in a large shallow serving bowl. Sprinkle with almonds and remaining chives and Parmesan
* If you are not eating gluten, this recipe can easily be made with your favorite grain or gluten-free pasta. The best gluten-free pasta I have ever had is bionaturae.