prep time ~25 minutes
Bring to boil:
2 qts water (you need to measure it because of the salt ratio).
1 Tbsp salt (don't reduce this - you're throwing most of it away later)
Cut up 1 lb asparagus: first cut off about 1.5 inches from the tip and then the top 1.5 inches from what's left, and put these pieces in a mesh bag (I use the ones that onions come in).
Cut up the remainder into 1.5" pieces.
Put these stalks and the mesh bag of tips into the water and cook for 3 minutes.
Remove the mesh bag and run cold water over it to stop it cooking. Put it aside.
Continue simmering the stalks for another 5 minutes.
Remove asparagus from the water and take out 1/2 cup of the water and transfer both to a blender. Don't empty out the rest!
Add 6oz fusilli or other small pasta to the asparagus water (use however much you need for 2 servings - you may like more than this).
Cook about 7 minutes (3 minutes less than whatever the package says)
In the meantime, add to the asparagus and water in the blender:
grated rind of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil.
Puree in the blender till smooth.
Save 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta.
Return it immediately to the pan with the puree and 1/2 cup of the saved pasta water.
Cook for 3 minutes over moderate heat (it should be boiling), stirring constantly. Add a bit more water if necessary. You want it to be a thick sauce, not a soup, but
remember the cheese will thicken it.
Add 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, and pepper to taste, cook briefly, then add the reserved asparagus tips and cook, stirrng gently, just long enough for the tips to get hot.
Serve immediately in pre-warmed bowls. (Or, reheat in microwave!)
The recipe also doubles really nicely, and makes for good leftovers too! If you double it, no need to use extra lemon rind, and still only add 1/2c water into the blender. Otherwise it gets too soupy. Double everything else.