Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Of Happy Endings and Mac n' Cheese - Asparagus, Goat Cheese and Lemon Pasta

Certainty is a rarity for me these days. It has no place at work, in the lives of those nearest and dearest to me, and least of all, in the foreseeable future. Lately it seems, certainty can be found in two places: My tiny and totally inadequate kitchen, and in Jane Austen. Thank God for Jane Austen.

I arrived home after work a tired, weepy mess. The culmination of a very long and disappointing day that not even M. Ward on repeat could remedy. Nothing to be done but fire up the stove and cook up a very serious version of mac n' cheese. To be eaten while watching a completely satisfying version of "Persuasion" on Masterpiece Theater. Oh teary classic romance and carbs. It's a truly perfect combination. Mr. Wentworth and Mr. Darcy really are the most dashing fictional romantic characters ever to have graced the page, and this particular Wentworth lost nothing in the translation to screen. Totally knee-weakening. I highly suggest you watch it.

So while difficult thoughts of the future and uncertainty give way to the well-deserved happy endings of Jane Austen's characters, and to the last of a bowl of pasta, I leave you with a recipe that has been making the rounds of the food blogs lately. This version came once more from Smitten Kitchen. It's such a simple and easy dish to make, perfect for a weeknight dinner. Tonight, at least, can end happily here.

Asparagus, Goat Cheese and Lemon Pasta
from Smitten Kitchen

1 lb pasta
1 lb asparagus
1 5-ounce log of goat cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon, plus more for garnish
fresh lemon juice to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Bring salted water to boil. Add pasta. Add the asparagus in the last two minutes of cooking and drain, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Combine goat cheese, lemon zest and olive oil in a large bowl with a fork, breaking up the cheese as you go. Pour the hot pasta and asparagus over the cheese mixture adding some of the pasta water as you go. Toss until well combined, so that the pasta is coated in the cheese mixture. Add more of the pasta water if needed. Season with the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

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