Green Fettuccine with Asparagus, Basil, and Butter

© Alan Richardson
This green-on-green pasta is the essence of springtime, and I start to crave it as soon as the first crocuses appear. The combination of asparagus, nutty Parmigiano-Reggiano, and the delicate accent of basil is perfection.

In a recipe with just a few ingredients, it is important that all of them be topnotch. Even the butter, an ingredient we sometimes take for granted, should be the best. I am particularly fond of Kerrygold, which comes from Ireland and has more flavor than standard American brands.

As for the asparagus, thick spears benefit from peeling to make them more tender. Skinny asparagus don't need to be peeled.

  • Salt
  • 1 pound fresh spinach linguini
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup shredded fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the scallions and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the asparagus, salt and pepper to taste, and the water, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until the asparagus is crisp-tender.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. 

Add the pasta, stir well, and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Scoop out some of the pasta water and drain the pasta.

Add the pasta to the pan with the asparagus, then add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, the basil, and parsley and toss well. If the pasta seems dry, stir in a little of the reserved cooking water.

Toss the pasta with half of the cheese, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top, and serve immediately.

Excerpted from The Italian Vegetable Cookbook, © 2014 by Michele Scicolone. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Serves 8

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