Arugula Pesto Pasta with Asparagus, Ricotta and Bacon
Necessity is the mother of invention, so when you have enough baby arugula or rocket to feed a small army crowding the refrigerator you make pesto. I was thinking ahead when I made this pasta and used up what I had left of a hoard of asparagus too. For this dish I shaved the asparagus finely with a vegetable peeler where it adds it's own special flavour and texture to this pasta dish.
There are many whimsical pasta shapes that hold a voluptuous sauce, fashioned after such things as shells, corkscrews, wagon wheels, and radiators. Sometimes the same shape goes by two different names, depending on the manufacturer. Did you know that the Canadian Pasta Makers Association estimates that there are more than 600 pasta shapes worldwide?
This recipe calls for Campanelle or farfalle pasta. At the time neither seemed available to me but I did come across some Gigli or "lilies" or even ballerine, which if not the same thing are at least similar. These are a delicate but sturdy shape, that has fluted, petal-like edges and a hollow center for capturing your sauce. It adds a touch of elegance and charm to your table don't you think?
I had chosen this recipe from Rachel Ray destined for an event, but, by the time her name would come up asparagus would no longer be in season so I decided to showcase it now. The only change I made was to throw the shaved asparagus into the pot of boiling water with the pasta for the last minute of cooking. It seemed the thing to do.
Presto Pasta Nights which has been the baby of Ruth over at Once Upon a Feast for over 5 glorious years. Whenever we feel the urge for some pasta we can go over to her site and have years of entries from all over the world to choose from, from pasta salad to lasagna to Pho. There is a pasta for every season, every ingredient and every taste. All of these delicious pasta dishes have been submitted by all of you!!! Ruth says, "As of February 25, 2011 we've published over 3700 entries from all over the world. Every week food bloggers photograph and write about their latest pasta creation… if it’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner; served hot or cold; spicy or sweet; from appetizers to mains to desserts." This week the event is being hosted by Tandy of Lavender and Lime.
**Arugula Pesto Pasta with Asparagus, Ricotta and Bacon **
- 8 cups arugula (about 6 ounces)
- 1 cup basil leaves
- ½ cup each pine nuts and grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ pound trimmed asparagus
- 1 pound pasta (such as campanelle or farfalle)
- Fresh ricotta cheese
- Crumbled crisp-cooked bacon
2. With the machine on, drizzle in ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil until combined.
3. Using a vegetable peeler, shave ½ pound trimmed asparagus into long, thin strips.
4. Cook 1 pound pasta (such as campanelle or farfalle) until al dente; drain and immediately toss with the pesto and asparagus. (In the last minite of cooking I added the shaved asparagus to the pasta pot). Season with salt. Top each serving with a dollop of fresh ricotta cheese and crumbled crisp-cooked bacon.
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