Sunday, November 1, 2009

Asparagus, Oka, Pine Nuts, and Lemon Pasta

One of my favourite cheeses in Quebec is Providence Oka.  It's like butter and I've had more nights than I care to admit when I've made bread and oka into my dinner.  I decided it was finally time to cook with it.  So, I adapted a recipe I tried before and was slightly underwhelmed with.  I think this version is a keeper for me.

Asparagus, Oka, Pine Nuts, and Lemon Pasta


250g spiral-shaped pasta
500g slender asparagus spears, trimmed, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
zest from one lemon
juice from one lemon
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil plus more for garnish
1 wheel of Providence Oka cheese
Fresh lemon juice to taste
toasted pine nuts

1. Cook your pasta in a large pot of well-salted water until it is almost tender, or about three minutes shy of what the package suggests.
2. Add asparagus and cook until firm-tender, another two to three minutes. Drain both pasta and asparagus together.
3. Meanwhile, combine olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, basil and pine nuts in a bowl.  Add cheese, cut up (or spooned up) into pieces with the rind removed.
4. Pour mixture into the pot the pasta was in.  Add pasta and asparagus back to the dish, stirring until the cheese is melted.
5. Season with salt and pepper.

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