Balsamic Asparagus Pasta

The other day I was looking for some inspiration for a quick mid-week meal, and I asked a friend what she was going to cook that night.  She rattled down a recipe for a dish that I would from then on have once a week – Balsamic Tomato Pasta.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m taking full advantage of asparagus season right now and try to have some once or twice a week.  I had some stalks left over and decided to adapt my friend’s recipe to make Balsamic Asparagus Pasta.  This is a sort of ‘light’ version as opposed to the ‘dark’ tomato version where I use dark balsamic vinegar and black pepper, with basil sprinkled on top.

I purposely didn’t give any indication of quantities in the recipe, because it’s really completely up to how hungry you are or how many people you want to feed.

Balsamic Asparagus Pasta 01

Balsamic Asparagus Pasta

any kind of pasta shape
diced onion
any kind of cold smoked / country-style ham, diced
oil / butter / oil spray
white balsamic vinegar
freshly ground pepper
asparagus, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces

Balsamic Asparagus Pasta 02

Start cooking pasta before starting on the rest.  Shortly before pasta water boils, cook the asparagus in a separate pot for about 5 – 7 minutes, then drain and put aside.

Sauté onions and ham in an oiled, buttered or oil-sprayed pan until the onions are soft and golden.  Add white balsamic vinegar – enough to cover the bottom of your pan, but not so much that the onions and ham swim in it! – and let simmer for a few minutes until reduced by three quarters.

Add the asparagus pieces, stir to make sure they’re also covered a little in balsamic vinegar, then season with pepper.  [I don’t use any salt at all, because the ham I use is quite salty. Using pink pepper was not just for colour but because it’s milder and goes well with the asparagus.]  Add the pasta to the pan, stir through and leave for a couple of minutes so it’ll take on the balsamic taste a little.

You can serve this dish sprinkled with any kind of herb you like.  For this asparagus version I didn’t use any, because I only had fresh basil and didn’t want to use that as I wanted to enjoy the flavour of the asparagus as much as possible.

Balsamic Asparagus Pasta 03