Asparagus grows wild, thin, and tall in Umbria and there are many favorite ways to prepare it, including grilled, marinated in salads and combined with spaghetti. In this dish only the asparagus tips (punte) are used; save the slender stems to use in soups or sautéed with other vegetables.
1/4 cup Filippo Berio Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 pounds thin asparagus, trimmed, and tips cut 1-inch long
6 large plum tomatoes, peeled, and cut into small pieces
1/4 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
Grinding coarse black pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1/4 cup reserved cooking water
1/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese plus extra for sprinkling on top
Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan large enough to accommodate the cooked spaghetti (at least 12-inches in diameter). Stir in the garlic and asparagus and cook until they begin to brown slightly. Stir in the tomatoes, ¼ teaspoon of the salt, and pepper, lower the heat, cover the pan and cook the mixture for 5 minutes or just until a knife is easily inserted into the asparagus tips.
Keep the sauce warm while the spaghetti is cooking.
Bring 4 to 6 quarts of water to a boil in a pasta pot. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of salt and spaghetti. Cook until the spaghetti is al dente, firm but cooked through. Drain the spaghetti, reserving ¼ cup of the cooking water. Add the water and spaghetti to the pan with the asparagus sauce. Over medium heat, reheat the mixture, stirring quickly to blend all the ingredients. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and stir in.
Transfer the spaghetti and asparagus sauce to a platter and serve immediately. Pass extra cheese for sprinkling on top.
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