Eckert’s Italian Sausage and Asparagus Cream Pasta

It's asparagus season in the Midwest and I am eagerly digging through my files of asparagus recipes. I came across this one and decided it just had to be dinner this week.

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 On the Belleville farm, we are in the midst of preparing 5 acres of ground for our first ever asparagus plantings. Although it will take about 3 years to get a sizable crop of asparagus spears, I am already excited to the moon and back because it is my favorite spring veggie!!

 Asparagus is a perennial plant which means, once it is established, it will produce for us indefinitely. Our farm guys will be learning a lot as they plant the first roots next week. I am sure we will be sharing video and shots on Instagram soon, so stay tuned!!

 Back in my kitchen, I decided to bring fresh asparagus, pasta and Eckert's sausage together. I started by choosing a cone-shaped pasta called Gigli (also called Campanelle) because its ruffled edges hold thick sauces so well. Other pasta choices worth substituting are fusilli or farfalle. Gigli is a fun one to use if you can find it, because of its story (of course it is available at Eckert's Country Store in Belleville). Gigli is shaped like a lily which is the symbol of Florence where this pasta is made. (cool huh?)

 This recipe is fairly simple and it really allows the flavors of the sausage and asparagus to stand out in a basic white cream sauce. Be careful not to overcook the asparagus or it really loses its nice texture and snap. When making this recipe, I used Sauvignon Blanc, a dry white wine. Sauvignon Blanc is one of my favorite white wines when the temperatures warm up and it compliments spring vegetables perfectly.

 I hope you will give this recipe a try the next time you pick up some fresh asparagus and be sure to check out our asparagus planting progress at Eckert's soon on social media!

Eat well this spring, Angie

Eckert’s Italian Sausage and Asparagus Cream Pasta

1 pound Gigli or Penne uncooked pasta
1 pound hot or mild fresh Italian sausage, casings removed and meat crumbled
1 Tbsp. olive oil
½ to ¾ cup frozen chopped onion, slightly defrosted
1 garlic clove, minced
½ tsp. red pepper flakes, optional
1/3 cup dry white wine
¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. heavy cream
2 to 3 cups fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into ¾-inch pieces
¾ to 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Boil water and prepare pasta according to package directions.

Brown sausage in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until lightly browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer sausage to plate.

 In the skillet, add oil and heat over medium heat until oil is shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened about 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and pepper flakes and cook about 1 minute. Add wine and simmer until almost evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.

 Increase heat to medium high, add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; add 1 cup cream and asparagus pieces. Simmer for 4 to 6 minutes* or until asparagus is slightly tender, but firm and sauce is slightly thickened. Mix in sausage and grated cheese; continue to cook 1 to 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper.

 Place cooked pasta and cream sauce in a large warm serving bowl. Toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

 * exact cook time may vary based on thickness of asparagus