Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pure and Balanced

Three Cheese and Asparagus Umbricelli

You've heard it said before, possibly even on this blog, that nothing spells spring quite like asparagus. So what would this blog in spring be without a post containing asparagus? It's almost sacrilege not to indulge yourself in gorging on what the season has to offer. And just as spring rolls in you will see carts full of asparagus flood the markets green.

They used to be about $4 a bunch but I saw them being sold for 69 cents a bundle at a roadside market one afternoon. I was driving by and almost crashed into a median strip. I did manage to steer myself away from a near miss, but I was in too much shock to stop to buy any.
Yes, cheap produce has quite an effect on me.

Anchovies in Olive Oil

Even though that asparagus wasn't worth losing my life for, I did manage to get a few bundles at the Pyrmont Grower's Markets. Pristine, and just newly-picked from the farm, those gleaming emerald batons were calling out to be bought. And what can I say, I'm a sucker for anything fresh. And what to do with them, there are so many choices- stir fried, in a tart, perfectly seared on a char-grill or baked and wrapped in prosciutto? Talk about possibilities- endless, right?

And then there was the growing stack of cheeses in my fridge. Did they just reproduce themselves or was that just me going a little fromage crazy? After a trip to the Hunter Valley and a stint at the markets, my fridge was brimming with mouldy dairy. This is what was sitting in my fridge, a wedge of brie, a Pokolbin soft rind, a wedge of Hunter Valley blue, a tub of mascarpone, a few morsels of Danish Blue and some Midnight Moon. Call me a cheese hoarder- I definitely am guilty of that.

Hunter Valley Blue Cheese

To overcome this self-induced cheese infestation I had to combine as many cheeses into a dish without going overboard. That's where this three cheese pasta was born, from a necessity to make use of this surfeit of cheese. The 3 cheeses I decided to use was the Hunter Valley Blue, the Midnight Moon, which is an aged chevre and mascarpone. The blue, for its saltiness and pungency, the aged chevre for it's slight sweetness and the mascarpone for its creaminess. It was a triple threat. The pasta had just the right balance of flavours.

I can just hear the collective sound of tsk tsk tsk and the heads of a thousand dieticians shaking in dismay- the words three cheese and pasta just don't call out diet to me. But the fortunate thing is that I'm not on a diet and if you were on a diet, after this pasta you won't be. Goodbye diet and hello gym.

Three Cheese and Asparagus Umbricelli

But just because this pasta may be a little rich, doesn't mean you have to throw the towel in. It might a be little on the creamy side but the asparagus and the mushrooms rein it all in. Just as Simon Marchmont of Posh Nosh says, "Pure and balanced; like a nun on a tightrope".

Check out the round up of other great pasta dishes at Ruth's place, for Presto Pasta Night.

Three Cheese and Asparagus Umbricelli

Three Cheese and Asparagus Umbricelli

serves 2

Three Cheese and Asparagus Umbricelli

1 bundle asparagus
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic. chopped
3 anchovies
1 punnet mushrooms, sliced
50g blue cheese, diced
50g aged chevre, diced
100g mascarpone
250g umbricelli pasta (or any spiral shaped pasta)
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
freshly cracked black pepper

Take asparagus and snap the bottom parts and discard.
Chop the asparagus in half.
Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and blanch asparagus for 1 minute. Drain.
Bring another 1-litre pot of salted water to the boil.
Cook the pasta for the specified duration. Drain.

While pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Add the garlic and anchovies and cook until the anchovies are dissolved.
Add the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes.
Then add the blue cheese and aged chevre and stir until the cheese has melted.
Turn heat down to low and add the mascarpone and asparagus.
Add the pasta and mix until the sauce has coated the pasta.
Sprinkle parsley and freshly cracked black pepper on top.
If desired, top with shavings of aged chevre.

30 comments:

Jerry said...

Oh my dear Jen Jen, it sounds so fabulous, I only wish it were spring here so I could truly enjoy fresh asparagus!

Hillary said...

It's always so interesting to read about what's going on on the other side of the world where it's spring, not fall like it is here! Asparagus and cheese pasta dish looks great - you should submit it to Presto Pasta Night!

La maga delle spezie said...

Hello!
Your blog is very very nice!
Compliments!!!

Dana said...

Sigh, it's autumn in the States, so I will have to wait until April to give this a try. Looks delicious, though!

Nabeela said...

I think it's perfectly all right to have three cheese in a pasta dish. Life without pleasures is a life wasted ;)

aria said...

hi jenjen, those ingredients are beautiful, i love your pictures! such a talented photographer....

now i need to make pasta, yum!

Meri said...

You have used all my favourite ingredients, cheese, anchovies, asparagus what better is there??!!!
I will be making this on the weekend, thanks for the receipe.Meri

Kevin said...

This looks and sounds amazing! The pasta sure looks interesting.

jules said...

I'm totally addicted to asparagus at the moment too. Love that first photo

Ruth Daniels said...

They say the grass is always greener...and it certainly is true when I (here in Nova Scotia) am heading towards winter...no fresh, cheap asparagus until April.

Great recipe. I think I'll go hunting for all those great cheeses and see what else I can top it with...spinach, perhaps.

Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

Aimée said...

This is a pasta dish well worthy of announcing the arrival of spring. Just the thought of that cheese makes my knees go weak. VERY nice.

VeggieGirl said...

oh, how I miss spring (and in-season asparagus!!) - I absolutely LOVE autumn (which is the current season here, in the States), but there's just some ingredients available in spring that I deeply miss! your dish looks lovely though :0)

Christy said...

I must admit I am very jealous at the moment of such wonderfully fresh asparagus. Here is it fall, and while I can still get it (although it costs fortune) it simply isn't the same.

Mallow said...

All that cheese - it sounds too good!

Amy said...

What a beautiful dish, I love the combination. I'm so envious of your spring.

evinrude said...

wow~ asparagus and 3 cheeses! mmmmmm~! i AM on a diet and this is definitely forbidden, but who can resist! not me! =p

which is prob why i'm still on a diet =p

Patricia Scarpin said...

Jenjen, what a fantastic pasta dish - who can say no to pasta with asparagus and 3 types of cheese? I know I can't. :)

Barb McMahon said...

And when you've used up all the cheeses in your fridge and need something else to put on your pasta, try it with peanut sauce - it's a heavenly combination!

I will be saving this recipe for next spring....

micka said...

mmm, yummy. The addition of anchovies do make my mouth water. I just discovered your blog and really enjoy your photos and recipe ideas. I'll eagerly be checking your blog for more!

Half Baked said...

One word *drool*! Your picture is so amazing I wanted to lick the screen! I'l have to make this pasta when our aspargus is in season...I'llhave to wait a few months. Sigh...

Windy said...

I'm not an expert on pasta but this one looks quite unusual. :) Nice though...

Geraldine said...

Yum,yum,yum....this looks and sounds delish!!!

e said...

may i share another asparagus recipe with you? asparagus tart?

daniela said...

I'm totally fascinated by your pictures and your style!

great job dear jen…

Deb said...

Just stumbled on your blog and I must say how beautiful! I am adding your link now!!

Cakespy said...

Oh, asparagus, where have you gone? To the other hemisphere it seems. I am so jealous! I just came across your blog through foodieblogs and love it!

Peabody said...

You are going to make me pout. It is Fall here so no asparagus :(
It looks devine.

abby said...

i'm another one in the wrong hemisphere for asparagus season - sigh. it does look and sound delicious though and i can't really complain as ate loads of the stuff earlier this year.

Anonymous said...

Ummmm....loved your recipes. I have a TON of allergies (food and environmental) and used to cook and bake a lot, before my diagnosis. It's still fun to read about it though! Please feel free to visit http://www.aturningpoint4me.blogspot.com …The invasion of the body snatcher…menopause.

gretch said...

Oh my golly! Your photographs are absolutely gorgeous and you make food look way to amazing to eat! I love it!