It’s my baby sister’s birthday on Wednesday, so over the weekend I asked her if she wanted to pick a blog topic/recipe for the week in honor of her special day. She responded “Well, my favorite things that you make are: short ribs, squash mac and cheese, tomato soup with crostini, and shredded brussels sprouts. But my favorite food is chèvre, I cannot get enough of it…..maybe you could just do a goat cheese post?” (That’s a verbatim text message, by the way).
I suppose I could, but that seems like a lot of goat cheese….and this pasta dish looked easy and delicious – and a lot more seasonally appropriate than any of the other options she listed. Only six ingredients, and it takes less than 20 minutes, truly. Someday I’ll do my Junior League Cookbook’s fried goat cheese salad, though, because it’s also amazing. And maybe the tomato soup in August, when we have tomatoes fresh off the vine.
I always forget how much I love asparagus. Tip for trimming: just snap off the bottom with your fingers, and whatever snaps off is the part you don’t want to eat. You probably already know this, but I didn’t until recently so I’m telling you just in case.
Fun fact about tarragon – it smells amazing.
Just stir the goat cheese into the olive oil, lemon zest (I added juice from half of the zested lemon as well), tarragon, and a little pasta water. Any un-blended chunks of cheese will melt once tossed with the hot pasta.
I used whole wheat pasta just to make myself feel a little healthier, and it actually turned out delicious with the chèvre (IMHO).
1 pound fusilli (or pasta of your choosing, fusilli works nicely because it’s similar in size to the asparagus pieces, and there’s lots of little crevices for the cheese to stick to)
1 pound slender asparagus spears, trimmed, cut into 1 to 1 1/2-inch pieces (I actually think you could use less pasta and more asparagus, but that’s just me)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel (Smitten Kitchen tells you to add some juice, too)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon, plus sprigs for garnish
1 5 to 5 1/2-ounce log soft fresh goat cheese (I used a peppercorn-flavored log for a little extra flavor)
1. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling, (heavily) salted water until almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes (or 2-3 minutes less than package directions). Add asparagus and cook until pasta is tender but still firm to bite, about 2-3 minutes longer.
2. Meanwhile, combine oil, lemon peel (and juice if using), and chopped tarragon in large bowl. Coarsely crumble in goat cheese.
3. Drain pasta and asparagus, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Add hot pasta, asparagus, and 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid to bowl with cheese mixture. Toss to coat, adding more reserved liquid if dry. Season pasta to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to shallow platter. Garnish with tarragon sprigs. I added parmesan here, too, because I like to add parm to everything – but this dish really doesn’t need it.
Pairs nicely with a crisp glass of rosé, although really, what doesn’t? Happy Birthday Ab!