Salt and pepper
1 pound penne rigate
1/2 pound thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock, divided
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup unsalted pistachios, toasted
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
4 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup dry white wine or 1/2 cup additional stock
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or white balsamic vinegar
A handful of grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more to pass at 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 starchy cooking water.
Using a food processor, puree 1/2 cup stock, the mint, parsley, pistachios and EVOO.
In a medium size 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. This is one of many "Yum-o!" recipes – it's good and good for you. To find out more about Yum-o!, Rachael's nonprofit organization, visit www.yum-o.org.