A simple pan sauce can elevate even the most basic meals. Here, a creamy Alfredo-style sauce with Pecorino cheese makes a sublime meal of linguine, asparagus, and shrimp.
Besides playing the delicious green-ness of asparagus against the buttery notes in the shrimp and cream sauce, I love this dish for how quickly it comes together. The asparagus and shrimp are sautéed until tender and the creamy sauce is thrown together right in the pan while the pasta cooks. The linguine is ready just in time for the sauce to join it. A few chive blossoms to finish make for a gorgeous and delicious spring meal.
When buying asparagus, look for thin stalks that aren't too leggy. As the season progresses, stalks can become quite stout and tough. When breaking the woody ends off of your asparagus, assess the toughness — thicker stalks can be peeled to remove the tough, fibrous outer layer.
Chive blossoms lend a pop of color to this dish, but aren't essential to the flavor. Look for chive blossoms at farmers or specialty markets. If you cannot track them down, flowerless chives will be just fine.
Creamy Asparagus and Shrimp Pasta
unsalted butter, divided
Coarse sea salt
peeled, deveined shrimp
minced garlic (2 to 3 cloves)
minced chives, divided
half and half
grated Pecorino cheese
Freshly ground pepper
Fill a sink with cold water and submerge asparagus to dislodge any sand. Break off pale, woody ends (approximately the bottom third of the stalk), and discard. Working from base to top, use a sharp paring knife to halve or quarter asparagus into thin strips.
Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Salt water generously and cook linguine to al dente. Reserve pasta cooking water for plating.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large, deep-sided skillet set over medium-high heat. Add half the asparagus, sprinkle with sea salt, and cook just until spears go slightly limp and are a vibrant green, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove to a plate and cook the second batch.
Melt another tablespoon of butter in the pan, add half the shrimp, sprinkle with sea salt, and cook just until shrimp pinks up and the skin edges golden, about 2 minutes per side. Remove cooked shrimp to a plate and cook second batch.
Turn heat to low, add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to the pan, and when melted, stir in garlic and chives; sauté for 1 minute. Stirring constantly, pour in half and half. Sprinkle in Pecorino, stirring until cheese has melted. Fold in cooked asparagus and shrimp.
To serve, twist linguine into shallow bowls, top with cream sauce, using reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce if needed. Top with asparagus and shrimp. Finish dish with chive blossom petals and a twist of pepper. Serve immediately.