lemon asparagus pasta sauce (with optional bread crumbs and scallops)

bob is a pushover for trendy food mags. Spotting the latest Gourmet for the first time, he does a quick scan and spots this recipe but with good self-discipline, re-racks the issue and walks away. But ani picks up some bay scallops and was not immediately forthcoming with an idea for how to do them with pasta. bob's recent recipe find fresh in mind seems compatible with a bay scallop option. Ani also fails to find fresh bagged bread crumbs, but bob says no problem—we'll food process some leftover baguette. Which she has in mind to accompany the scallops. bob grabs another copy of the food mag at checkout.

Ani never wants to read recipes in the kitchen and bob didn't have time to read the recipe lead-in chatter. But afterwards, the author talks about how she first tried it when her friend was writing the cookbook from which this was taken. A cookbook residing in the dr bob cooking team library years already. But without Gourmet to help us select, we'd have never noticed this gem.


penne or pasta of choice (butterflies or mafalde: ruffled narrow lasagna-like noodles)
1 lb fresh asparagus, tough ends trimmed
1 t finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 c freshly grated parmigiano
salt and pepper to taste
optional bread crumbs and scallops
1.5 c bay (or sea) scallops
1/4 c bread crumbs


  1. Cut asparagus into 1 inch pieces, keeping the tender tips separate.
  2. Cook the cut stems in 5 to 6 quarts boiling water with 2 T salt until very tender, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a colander, reserving cooking liquid in pot, and rinse under cold water. Drain well and put in a food processor.
  4. Cook the asparagus tips in the same water about 3 to 5 minutes until just tender and transfer to colander to rinse under cold water and drain well.
  5. Puree the asparagus stems with zest, oil and 1/2 c asparagus cooking water and then put in a 4 qt saucepan.
  6. Then cook the pasta in the already boiling asparagus cooking water until it is still a bit before the al dente state (say 3/4 the recommended cooking time). Reserve 2 c cooking water and drain pasta.
  7. Add the pasta, asparagus tips and 1/2 c cooking water to the asparagus sauce and cook over high heat about 3 to 5 minutes while stirring until the pasta is almost al dente and the sauce coats it. Add more cooking water 1/4 c at a time until the sauce coats the pasta but is a little loose (the cheese will thicken it slightly at the next step).
  8. Stir in the parmigiano, salt and pepper to taste and cook while stirring until the cheese is melted.
  9. Serve immediately.
  10. . If exercising the scallop option, brown the bread crumbs in a sauté pan, and separately sauté the scallops in a bit of olive oil until cooked, then combine with the pasta at the end of step 8. Or maybe we attempted bread-crumbing the scallops. Or maybe we should have attempted bread-crumbing the scallops. Maybe we should just forget the crumbs and toss in the scallops. You decide.


  1. Gourmet, May 2000, p 247. Faith Heller Willinger: Red, White and Greens: The Italian Way with Vegetables. Intro by the Executive Food Editor Zanne Stewart.
  2. We used butterfly pasta.
  3. We also never wrote down the details of  our execution of the recipe, but the asparagus prep here seems way too sophisticated for the dr bob cooking team. Probably we did the usual asparagus prep routine boiling whole in a vertical asparagus pot, and when done, cut off the tips and put aside, while chopping up the stems and food processing them. Making sure we had at least 2 c of somewhat more intense asparagus water left to use in the recipe later. Yeah, that sounds right.
pstlmnas.htm: 16-aug-2006 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]