Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter

I like to try to share new recipes as often as I’m motivated… today’s recipe is one I had to try when Mike was not home for dinner. You see, we share an aversion to stinky cheeses (discovered after the horrific Gruyère on french onion soup experience several years back). However, Parmesan cheese falls into this category for him, while it’s on my yummy list. That and he doesn’t like asparagus, which is a staple in this dish. About halfway through cooking (the part where you simmer the balsamic vinegar) I got a bit skeptical, but this turned out very nicely. It’s a fairly quick and easy meal (took me about 30 minutes, which you could trim down to about 20) and tasted delicious!

Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter
Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter

Ingredients

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

Directions

Heat the oven to 400°. 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 until 3 tablespoons remain. Stir in the brown sugar and the 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 the remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt. Serve with additional Parmesan.

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