Penne with Pistachio-Mint Pesto

Aired February 18, 2013

Serves 4
Salt and pepper
1 pound penne rigate
1/2 pound thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Ice water
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup unsalted pistachios, toasted
2 - 3 tablespoons EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or white balsamic vinegar
A handful grated Pecorino-Romano, plus more to pass around the table

Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the asparagus and cook for 3 minutes. With a spider or slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking; drain and set aside. To the same water, still boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

Using a food processor, puree 1/2 cup stock, the mint, parsley, pistachios and EVOO.

In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the flour. Stir in the wine and cook until reduced to 2 tablespoons. Add the remaining 1 cup stock and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat to low. Stir in the lemon juice (or vinegar). Remove from the heat and stir in the pistachio puree.

Add the pasta, asparagus and a handful of cheese to the skillet; toss, stirring in the reserved cooking water to thin the consistency if desired. Season with salt and pepper. Pass more cheese at the table.

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