This is an easy way to use the small green asparagus we get in the spring. It’s also a great dish to make if you’re feeling tired. You can literally pull it together in... the time it takes to boil the pasta!
For more protein, we’ve added ½ cup of frozen lima beans. We have also reserved some pasta water to moisten the sauce instead of adding in more oil. Serve it with a chunk of Parmigiano on the table ready to be grated over the pasta.
Toast the sliced almonds in a heavy- wide pan until they are just turning golden. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add pasta to the boiling water and continue to boil for 7 minutes, or 3 minutes less than package instructions. Add the asparagus and frozen lima beans to the boiling pasta and cook for 2 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then drain the pasta and vegetables -- they should be a little undercooked.
Meanwhile, in a deep pan or wok, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and chili pepper, if using. Continue cooking until the garlic is light gold, about 3 minutes. Do not let the garlic burn.
Add the parsley to the pan and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add ¼ cup of pasta water to the pan and bring to a simmer. Add the almonds, and turn the heat down to medium. If the pan gets dry, add more pasta water, a little at a time.
Add the drained pasta, asparagus, and lima beans to the pan. Stir well, and add in the remaining pasta water, stirring continuously and allowing to reduce. Add the grated cheese and a grind or two of black pepper. Mix well and cook for another minute. Taste for seasonings then serve.
Trimming asparagus is a pretty basic tip, but helpful to those new to using asparagus. The woody root ends should not be eaten and need to be snapped off before cooking. Hold the asparagus on either end, and bend the spear until it breaks. It will break right where the inedible part ends and the yummy juicy asparagus starts. Or for a less fun and maybe less satisfying way, simply cut the woody ends off — about ½ to 1 inch.