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Simmering the balsamic vinegar both mellows and thickens it. When tossed with the hot pasta and butter it forms a smooth, uniquely flavored sauce.
Balsamic vinegar, Parmesan cheese, and especially asparagus will be best served by a wine with plenty of acidity. Look for a Sancerre from the Loire Valley in France (made from sauvignon blanc grapes) or a sauvignon blanc from Italy.
- 1 pound asparagus
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 pound penne
- 1/4 pound butter, cut into pieces
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Snap the tough ends off the asparagus and discard them. Cut the spears into 1-inch pieces. Put the asparagus on a baking sheet and toss with the oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer and reduce until 3 tablespoons remain. Stir in the brown sugar and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Remove from the heat.
Cook the penne in a large pot of boiling, salted water until just done, about 13 minutes. Drain the pasta and toss with the butter, vinegar, asparagus, Parmesan and remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt. Serve with additional Parmesan.
VARIATION: Use broccoli instead of asparagus.
When asparagus is not in season, cut 1 pound of broccoli into small spears for roasting. Toss them with 2 tablespoons oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and roast for about 15 minutes. Continue with step 2.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Food and Wine. All rights reserved.
nutrition information per serving
648 calories; 31g total fat; 69mg cholesterol; 1718mg sodium; 75g carbohydrates; 4g fiber; 21g protein
These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.
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