My friend Carol gave me this recipe many years ago. I like it because the fresh asparagus makes it a little more special than just a bowl of noodles, while the heat from the red pepper flakes and hot sauce is a little unexpected (but good!). I prefer to make it when I can get my hands on very thin asparagus, about the thickness of a pencil.
Carol’s original recipe calls for the addition of butter (1 tablespoon) and Parmesan or Romano cheese (about 1/4 cup). I left the dairy out this time because I served two pasta dishes for our Mother’s Day lunch today, and the other one was meat. If you leave the butter and cheese out, this dish is just as good served at room temperature (or even cold) as it is hot from the pan.
Spicy Pasta with Asparagus
Adapted from Carol’s recipe
12 oz. pasta (similar in shape to asparagus pieces, such as penne or gemelli)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. fresh young asparagus, trimmed & cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1½ tsp. dried red pepper flakes
2-3 dashes hot sauce
salt & pepper to taste
Prepare pasta according to the package directions.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté asparagus in the oil for 5 minutes, then add garlic, red pepper, and hot sauce. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until asparagus is softened but not mushy.
Add drained pasta to the skillet and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Add additional olive oil, butter, or grated cheese if desired.