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13 July 2011

Gemelli with Asparagus & Speck

After a long vacation, one job that makes me drag my feet heavily around the house is going back to normality.   That means sending the washing machine to endless cycles, ironing mountains of clothes, putting the things back in their original places, changing the sheets on all the beds and filling up the cupboards & refrigerator with food again.   So, after three days here I am in front of the TV, passively watching this sort of fish cartoons with my one-year old while I am reacquainting myself with the couch and writing this.  

Poor kids didn't have TV for three weeks in the mountains. There was a big TV staring at us in the sitting room but try as we might, we couldn't make it work.  My husband was convinced that it's better that way so that they will commune with nature.   I was disagreeable, near to panic.  Kids with no access to TV and a very limited amount of toys means disaster, havoc, whining, noise, you name it.  I was right.  After one week of no TV, we desperately hooked the laptop to the internet, searched You Tube and crossed our fingers that they will quiet down for at least an episode of the 70's Barbapapa, the only cartoons both can agree in watching.  Oh God, there was silence.  I couldn't believe it (and I think I even heard the sighs of relief of our poor neighbors).   Thank God for modern technology!

Speck is the cured ham from the Tyrol region of Italy & Austria, where the mountains of the Dolomites are.  And one of the souvenirs I took home from our trip there is this ham.  The mementos I take home from my trips are the edible kind.   I can spend hours in the food shops and I am known to give my husband the problem of figuring out how to make everything fit in the car. 

I love the combination of speck & asparagus.  The blended flavor is strong and delicious.  Less is sometimes better.  Just two ingredients and you can create this wonderful, simple pasta. 

Gemelli with Asparagus & Speck

Serves 4
  • 350 - 400 g. gemelli or any kind of pasta
  • 400 g. asparagus
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • 150 g. speck, cubed
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper 
  • parmigiano reggiano, grated
  1. Boil some water in a pot for the pasta.  When it boils, add the salt.  Cook the pasta according to the number of minutes suggested in the package.  Meantime, prepare the sauce.
  2. Discard the tough ends of the asparagus spears.   Cut the tips and set aside.  Chop the remaining asparagus and put them in the food processor or electric food chopper to mince.  Set aside.
  3. In a saucepan with extra virgin olive oil over medium heat, sautè the garlic.  When it turns golden, add the speck.  Toast.
  4. Add the asparagus tips then after a few minutes, follow with the minced asparagus.  Cook between 15 - 20 minutes.   
  5. If the sauce dries up while cooking, ladle some hot water from the pot where you are cooking the pasta.  Season with salt & pepper.
  6. Add the cooked pasta with the sauce.  Mix.  Discard the garlic.
  7. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil & sprinkle with parmigiano reggiano before serving.