When I arrived home from a weekend trip, I discovered that my vegetables were on their last legs, and my pesto cream sauce needed to be used ASAP! Well, I also wasn’t feeling very inspired, so everything went into this pasta dish. In spite of this, I am happy to report that it turned out quite well, and the sauce was surprisingly light and wonderful for the warm spring evening.
Pesto Cream Sauce
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4th teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/8th teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
2 Tablespoons prepared pesto
1 Tablespoon Parmesan Reggiano
Mix all the ingredients in a sauce pan and cook on medium low heat. Stir constantly until thickened. Set aside.
17.6 ounce (500g) bag penne pasta
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound Asparagus, rough ends removed and chopped into 2 inch pieces
2 ½ cups chopped leeks (See notes for cleaning)
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 cup reserved pasta water
½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper to taste
1 cup shredded Parmesan Reggiano
Cook penne pasta according to package directions in heavily salted water. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water toward the end of cooking, then strain the pasta.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat until shiny. Add the garlic and sauté for about 10 seconds. Then put in the asparagus and a pinch of salt & pepper and cook for 1 minute. Next, add the leeks and heat until softened slightly and warmed through, stirring occasionally for about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the fresh tomatoes. Stir to combine.
In a large bowl, toss together the pasta, vegetable mixture, pesto cream sauce, reserved pasta water, ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt, lots of fresh cracked pepper to taste, and the Parmesan Reggiano. Serve immediately.
Notes: If you’ve never cleaned leeks before, there is an instructional video at: http://video.about.com/frenchfood/Cleaning-Fresh-Leeks.htm.
Recipe by Laura Flowers