Something savory after an almost endless stream of posts about desserts and candies… this is my favorite pasta dish, right after the ubiquitious aglio olio. And actually, when you think about it, it’s pretty much working from the same garlic, olive oil and chilli base of the aglio oilio. As you may have guessed, I don’t fancy tomato-based pasta sauces all that much because I think them too sour most of the time (although a delightful encounter with the sauces at Da Paolo Gastronomia has proven to be a splendid exception). But since I’m no Italian gourmet, when I’m home, I tend to stick to white sauces or oilive oil-based pasta dishes.
This one has no real recipe really, I just add as much or as little of the ingredients as I have on hand. Here I try my best to quantify but it’s an estimate at best…do try it, leaving your inner chef to come up with the amounts and proportions. After all cooking is alot more forgiving than baking, which is almost a science in itself.
Spicy asparagus and chicken fusilli
(generously serves 2)
1/2 a packet/box of fusilli or penne (or as much as you intend to serve)
1 package chicken fillets, about 6-8 strips
1 package baby thai asparagus, or a bunch of the regular ones
extra virgin olive oil
3-5 cloves garlic (I like alot of garlic)
freshly ground pepper
parmesan cheese, grated
1. Wash chicken fillets, dab dry, remove the white tendon and slice into bite-sized pieces.
2. Wash asparagus, snap off the bases and slice/snap into 2″ pieces.
3. Boil water, add a large pinch of salt and cook the pasta till al dente. Drain, reserving a cup of the pasta liquid. This will make you feel very very Jamie Oliver and Anthony Bourdain, trust me. After all, they are the ones who many a time wax lyrical about the wonders of adding dirty pasta liquid into sauce.
2. While the water is boiling and pasta is cooking, place the chicken in a frying pan with about 2 tbsp of olive oil and brown on both sides over high heat. Then cover and cook till chicken is just tender over medium heat…about 4-5 minutes. Don’t overcook or it’ll be dry and rubbery.
3. While chicken is cooking, pound garlic in a pestle and mortar with a little coarse salt. The salt grains help to mush the garlic up… and gives you another Jamie Oliver moment.
4. Once the chicken is done, remove the pieces onto another plate.
5. Lower the heat and add another tbsp of oil. Dump in the garlic, asparagus and chilli flakes. I like it hot so almost 1/4 – 1/2 tsp of chilli flakes go in. Sprinkle a little of the pasta liquid in and stir fry til asparagus is just tender. Throw the chicken pieces back in and season with salt (bearing in mind that you’ve already added in some salt with the garlic). Turn off the heat
6. Add the drained pasta and some of the cooking liquid, about 1/8 cup, toss to mix everything and sprinkle with pepper and grated parmesan. Serve hot.
Fresh green baby asparagus