Friday, April 2, 2010

Fine Dining

On our trip last week we dined up and down the Monterey Bay. (One of my favorite parts of the trip, of course!) One of my most vivid memories is from our last night there when we had dinner overlooking the water. We were just next to some rocks, so we experienced the full effect of the ocean as the waves crashed against them. We sipped on margaritas and a family of adorable sea otters played just a few feet from us. It was really a hoot to watch them in action!

By the time we got back home I was thoroughly hooked on the whole dining experience. While I had no way to re-create the ocean views, I at least tried to stick with my approach for veggie sophistication. I didn't have any mushrooms, but I did incorporate wine and cheese into the meal.

This recipe is an old asparagus favorite ~ perfect for springtime.

I spruced it up a bit by experimenting with fontina. On our trip I picked up some locally grown and produced Riesling marinated garlic, which I've never cooked with before. As you see from the pictures, I used it in this dish.

While I look forward to trying the marinated garlic in other things, I definitely prefer fresh garlic here. It's such a simple recipe that the kick from the fresh garlic is essential. Enjoy!

Spaghetti with Asparagus, Fontina, and Garlic
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
  • 2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
  • 3/4 pound spaghetti (I prefer whole wheat)
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces Fontina, cubed
  • 6 Tbsp. thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
Cook the asparagus in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove asparagus from boiling water to a bowl of ice water to cool and stop the cooking. When cool, strain, cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces, and set aside.

Return the water in the pot to a boil, adding additional water, if necessary. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add asparagus to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the pasta, and if needed, some of the reserved cooking liquid. Toss to coat. Add the fontina and basil and toss to combine. The cheese will melt and coat the spaghetti as you stir. Turn off the heat. Adjust seasonings, if necessary, and serve.


  1. I was perusing your site and saw this recipe. I have pasta and asparagus and so I just made this for dinner. It was so delicious. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. So glad you liked it! Sometimes simple can still be really great.


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