Here is another good baked pasta from Fine Cooking. This one is very rich and it is a little more complicated than it seems at first. It took me four pans to prepare and bake the dish. It is so nice that G will clean up. Once it all comes together, the baking time is short.
I cut the recipe in half but made the full amount of sauce. I only used half of the sauce but it was easier to make the full amount of the sauce than try to cut it in half. The final dish is somewhat dry so some people suggest using double sauce but I think that would be too rich. The left over sauce will make a nice pasta dish for lunch.
There are several variations of this sauce on the web. One suggested adding smoked salmon which sounds great. If you have some lemon vodka on hand, you may also want to try this lemon asparagus fettuccine instead.
Baked Fettuccine with Asparagus, Lemon, Pinenuts and Mascarpone
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 lbs asparagus, cut in 1-inch pieces
8 scallions, sliced
2 lemons, zested
1 lemon, juiced
2-3 sprigs of thyme, chopped
salt, pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1 cup Grana Padano or parmigiano-reggiano cheese, grated
pinch of allspice
pinch of cayenne
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 lb fettuccine pasta
1/2 cup pinenuts, toasted
Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly grease a large shallow baking dish with olive oil. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and blanch the asparagus until crisp-tender - about 2 minutes. Transfer with slotted spoon to colander and run under cold water. Drain well. Save water for pasta.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the scallions and saute for 1 minute to soften. Add the asparagus and saute briefly. Remove from heat and add half of the zest, the lemon juice and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter and flour over medium heat, whisking until smooth. Cook 1 minute. Add the milk and cook, whisking, until it comes to a boil. Lower the heat and cook until smooth and slightly thickened 3-4 minutes.
Turn off heat. Add remaining lemon zest, Mascarpone and 1/2 cup of Grana Padano, whisking until smooth. The texture will be a little grainy. Season with cayenne, allspice, salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and remaining Grana Padano cheese. Season with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
Return cooking water to boil and cook the fettuccine. Drain well. Return the fettuccine to pan. Add the pine nuts, the mascarpone sauce and the asparagus. Toss and taste for seasoning.
Pour into the baking dish and sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the top. Bake uncovered until bubbling and golden, 15-20 minutes. Serve right away.