Pasta with Asparagus and Lemon Vinaigrette

4 oz. ricotta salata cheese
1/4 cup mixed fresh herbs like flat leaf parsley, basil and chives, plus a pinch of dry thyme
2 cloves garlic, peeled
8 to 12 fresh asparagus spears, peeled and sliced on the bias into small pieces
lemon vinaigrette (recipe below)
zest of 1 lemon
8 oz. pasta (small shapes like penne or bow ties)

Lemon Vinaigrette
2 tbsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
4 tbsp. good quality olive oil

Start the pasta to cook in salted water, per package directions, to al dente.

Chop the herbs and garlic finely, and place in a large bowl with crumbled ricotta salata. If you use fresh basil, chop it at the last minute and add with the hot pasta, or it will darken.

Prepare the lemon vinaigrette (recipe above).

Add the asparagus to cook with the pasta for the last 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the pasta and asparagus quickly; add to the herb/cheese mixture. Add vinaigrette, a little lemon zest, and salt and pepper as needed. The cheese is already salty, so taste before salting.

Serve immediately. Serves four.

Courtesy: AY Magazine. Presented on March 16, 2011.

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