Farfalle with Asparagus, Bacon & Mushrooms

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Homegrown Asparagus
Homegrown Asparagus

After weeks of anticipating locally-grown asparagus season, I am proud to announce our first harvest has arrived in the Country Store in Belleville! And thanks to a free night at home, our family enjoyed our first taste of the season.

Homegrown asparagus signifies the long-awaited start to homegrown harvest here in Southern Illinois and that is why our staff and regular customers look forward to seeing it arrive in our store so much. I try to prepare it as often as I can in during its all to brief eight week season.

Usually, I prepare asparagus by roasting it in the oven with a little olive oil to coat and a few sprinkles of kosher salt. In fact, my seven-year old son helps prepare it by snapping the ends off of the asparagus and rolling them in a little olive oil on sheet pan. After 10-12 minutes in a 400 degree oven, the asparagus is still crisp but tender to the prongs of a fork and ready to serve.

Sometimes when time allows, I get a bit fancier, like last night, when I made bow-tie pasta dressed in a creamy cheese sauce with earthy mushrooms, toasted walnuts, locally-raised bacon and crisp asparagus. I used baby bella mushrooms, also called porcini mushrooms in this recipe. Mushrooms and asparagus are truly a flavor match made in heaven and if you are lucky enough to have a source, you could really knock this recipe out of the park by using morel mushrooms!

Fresh Mushrooms & Asparagus
Fresh Mushrooms & Asparagus

Italian mascarpone makes this sauce outstanding and easy to prepare but if you have trouble finding it, here is substitution option: 8 oz of cream cheese, 2 tablespoons of sour cream and 2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream.

To see this dish prepared step-by-step, catch me on Show-Me St. Louis on Thursday, April 16th at 10am.

Farfalle, Asparagus, Mushrooms and Bacon
Farfalle, Asparagus, Mushrooms and Bacon

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. uncooked farfalle pasta
  • 1 cup reserved hot pasta water
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 lb. cremini mushrooms or morel mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 lb. thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¾ cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped, divided
  • 4-5 slices of cooked bacon, fat drained and coarsely chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ to ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Instructions

  1. Add the pasta to a pot of boiling water and cook. Stir often to prevent the pasta from sticking together, until tender but still firm to the bite, about 12 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the hot pasta liquid. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they are tender and most of their juices have evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and sauté until it is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mascarpone and nutmeg. Add the cooked pasta and toss until the cheese coats the pasta, adding the reserved cooking liquid ¼ cup at a time to moisten. Stir in ½ cup of the walnuts and the chopped bacon. Season the pasta to taste with salt and pepper. Mound the pasta in a large, wide serving bowl. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and remaining ¼ cup of walnuts and serve. Makes 4 servings.