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by Tessa Kiros
This has to be eaten as soon as it is ready It won't do well sitting around waiting for you. The pasta will absorb all the sauce and the whole thing will become too dry. Some broad beans would also be beautiful, cooked until soft and then added to the asparagus puree Use good-quality brandy
• 1¼ pounds (about 30 spears) fresh asparagus,
(trimmed of the woody ends)
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 1/2 small onion roughly chopped
• 1 garlic cloves roughly chopped
• a couple of thyme or marjoram sprigs
• 1/2 cup white wine
• 3/4 pound small peeled raw shrimp
• 2 tablespoons brandy
• 1 (16 ounce) package linguini
• grated parmesan cheese to serve
Boil the asparagus spears in salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, or until they are cooked but still slightly firm. Drain them but reserve the water. If the ends of the asparagus are still hard and woody, cut these away. Cut off the asparagus tips (if they are large, cut them in half lengthwise) and set them aside. Roughly chop the remaining asparagus
Heat the oil and half the butter in a saucepan. Sauté the onion until it is softened, then add the garlic, the chopped asparagus (not the tips), and thyme. Sauté gently for about 5 minutes and then add the wine. Simmer until the wine has thickened at the bottom of the pan and then add about 1¾ cups of the reserved asparagus water. Simmer over quite high heat tor a few minutes, then remove from the heat. Remove the thyme and puree the rest until smooth. Transfer to a large, warm bowl and add the asparagus tips. Season to taste
Wipe out the saucepan, melt the rest of the butter over high heat and, when it is sizzling, add the shrimp. Cook for a couple of minutes, until the shrimp are opaque and darkened on the outside. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then add the brandy and ignite or let it burn itself out. Remove from the heat and add to the asparagus. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water, following the package instructions. Drain it but reserve some of the cooking water. Mix the pasta and sauce in the bowl or in the saucepan if it will all fit. If it seems to need more liquid, add a little of the cooking water. There may seem to be a lot of sauce, but you will find the pasta absorbs it. Serve immediately, sprinkled with Parmesan and black pepper.
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