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20 April 2011

Riccioli with Dried Cranberries, Asparagus & Mint

If there is any pasta that I can associate with spring, this one comes to mind.  This recipe was a product of panic.  Panic that 15 minutes before mealtime, I still didn't have food on the table nor in my mind.  I did have a fresh bunch of asparagus but it ends there.  I can easily steam them as a side dish but there is the problem of the main dish.   I didn't have any.  I have a couple of frozen sea bass but they can't be defrosted and cooked with one snap of the fingers.  Unfortunately, I'm not Wonder Woman.  As I rummaged through my cupboards once, twice, thrice....sigh.  I finally settled for the almonds and dried cranberries.  I never tried this combination before but as I mentally associate the ingredients with their corresponding tastes, there seems to be a possibility.

I improvised as I cooked on.  I decided not to begin with garlic or onions because the flavor of each ingredient is so delicate that I wanted each of them to come out and complement each other.  Adding mint in the final stage concluded the sauce to perfection.  My perfection.  Yours can be different.

With the first forkful, you would think that it seems insipid but as you eat, the delectable blending grows in you.  It becomes more and more exquisite.  I love it.  I never thought cranberries, asparagus & mint can blend so well together.  

Riccioli with Dried Cranberries, Asparagus & Mint

Serves 4
  • 350 - 400 grams riccioli or any short pasta
  • 350 grams asparagus, shaved (tough ends cut) 
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 30 grams dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup shaved almonds
  • Bunch of mint leaves, chopped
  • Salt 
  • Pepper
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. When the water is boiling, add some salt. Put the pasta then cook following the number of minutes indicated in the package.
  2. While waiting for the water for the pasta to boil, prepare the sauce. Over medium heat, in a saucepan with extra virgin olive oil, sautè the shaved asparagus then toss in the pan for about 10 minutes.
  3. Pour the wine then put up the flame to high until it evaporates.
  4. Add the cranberries then season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the mint (leave some for garnishing) and the almonds. Cook for about 1 minute. Cover and turn off the fire if the pasta is still not cooked.
  6. If the pasta is cooked, combine with the sauce in the saucepan on low heat then mix well.
  7. Before serving, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil then garnish with the remaining mint leaves. Serve hot.