This week, I have continued to enjoy the asparagus season which always coincides with the bluebell season. The bluebells are just stunning at this time of year. They suddenly appear overnight, coating the woods with a carpet of blue, which lasts for a couple of beautiful weeks before disappearing for another year.
When I was a child, pasta was a staple in our house. My maternal grandparents were Italian and I have nostalgic memories of visiting my grandmother to find pasta being dried, draped around her kitchen.
It has remained one of my favourite foods, not least because you can grab a bag of dried pasta and it can be combined with any number of sauces for a really quick, tasty and nutritious meal. Unfortunately, becoming gluten free set an unexpected challenge. Traditional durum wheat pasta was off the menu and I was faced with a whole plethora of different gluten free pasta brands on the market which are made from any number of flours and all taste very different.
I have yet to be brave enough to attempt to make gluten free pasta (if anyone can recommend a good recipe, I would love to hear about it), but have tried a good many of the commercial brands on the market to find one our family are happy with. The one we like best is by Salute (imported from Italy) and comes in Penne, Fusilli and Spaghetti form. It is closer in flavour and texture to traditional pasta than many of the brands we have tried, although like all gluten free pasta, you have to be really careful not to over-cook or it will disintegrate.
Many years ago, I invented my tuna and asparagus sauce to pour over Penne. It uses a combination of fresh tuna, asparagus, mushrooms and baby corn in a cheesy, creamy base. The combination of flavours and textures combine beautifully with just the right amount of softness and bite. I have shared this meal with many friends and it has always been well received. My daughter now enjoys it too, so I thought it would be nice to share it more widely………….
Tuna & Asparagus Pasta (serves 4)
320g gluten free pasta (penne)
2 medium tuna steaks (approx. 330g)
100g button mushrooms
100g asparagus tips
100g baby corn
120 ml cream (double or single)
150g mature cheddar cheese
½ tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon (or sprinkle of dried)
salt & pepper to season
1 tablespoon olive oil
- Cut the tuna into cubes, the button mushrooms into halves, and chop the asparagus and baby corn into small lengths. Set aside.
- Grate the cheese and set aside.
- Cook the pasta until almost cooked but still firm. Drain and set aside covered with a lid to keep warm. (I pour boiling water over to rinse through as I drain in a colander to prevent sticking)
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently sauté the tuna for a couple of minutes before adding the mushrooms, asparagus and corn. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are beginning to brown, but still crisp and quite firm.
- Pour in about half of the cream and add the tarragon and seasoning. Stir and allow to cook for a minute or so to coat the other ingredients.
- Add the rest of the cream and the grated cheese and stir until the cheese has fully melted.
- Add the pasta to the mix and stir fully.
- Heat through, stirring intermittently. This will allow the pasta to finish cooking and blend the flavours through the dish.
- Serve with a sprig of tarragon and some grated parmesan.