linguine with roasted asparagus and sweet pepper in brie sauce

by Chen

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A simple pasta dish that reveals one trick.

The key to successful pasta dishes lies in the sauce; or more general, the flavoring base in which pasta is being served. Because there are so many shapes available today, and each of them has their unique characteristic and preference on the sauce, paring is crucial. Penne and shell like chunky vegetables, long noodles work well with richer sauce, and mini shapes are perfect for soups–these are not mandatory but worth considering.

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Speaking of the long noodles, I am not a big fan of angel hair or spaghetti; to me, the wider ones such as linguine and fettuccine are more comforting in the sense of being capable for holding creamier sauce. But there is a problem. Usually, making this type of sauce is laborious and a roux or b├ęchamel base is required. However, since I am making a sauce based on the good melting cheese–brie, I can adopt this trick from Jamie Oliver. The cheese is melting in a bowl sitting on top of the pot where water is boiling for pasta, so the sauce is almost finished at the same time when the water is done. But do remember to reserve some pasta water for later. The starchy water is what binds everything together and makes this cheesy sauce smoother.

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linguine with roasted asparagus and sweet pepper in brie sauce
Makes 2 servings

4 oz linguine or other long noodles, whole grain if you like
2 oz brie cheese
1 tsp coarse ground mustard (Dijon is fine)
1/2 tbsp EVOO
half bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed
1 whole fire roasted sweet pepper, sliced (available in most grocery stores)
grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F. Spread the asparagus on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle with EVOO and a pinch of salt. Roast until tender, 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly, then cut into 1-inch stems.

Fill a large pot half way through with well salted water and bring to a boil. While the water is heating, place the brie and mustard in a heat resistant bowl sitting on the pot. When the cheese melts and the water is boiling, remove the bowl and set aside. Add the pasta to the pot and cook according to package instructions.

Once the pasta is done, reserve 1/2 cup pasta water and use tongs to transfer the pasta to the bowl with the brie mixture. Add the asparagus and sweet pepper. Toss together until well incorporated, adding pasta water accordingly to make the sauce lump-free. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with Parmesan.

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