When springtime rolls around I find almost any excuse to cook fresh asparagus we bring home from the market. This is an easy pasta dish with asparagus and chicken breasts. Goat cheese melts into the cream sauce to make it even creamier. The sherry and lemon juice brighten the sauce, and a glance of nutmeg adds a final note. You can play around with this one, swap out a different cheese, or experiment with different herbs like thyme or basil, or even add some heat with a few chili pepper flakes.
- 1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat and sinews, and cut into strips 1 1/2 inches by 1/2 inch
- 1 lb asparagus spears, tough ends cut off and discarded, spears cut on the diagonal in 1-inch to 1 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 3/4 lb pasta, such as fettuccine or linguini
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 Tbsp chopped shallots
- 1/2 cup dry sherry
- 3/4 cup to 1 cup of heavy cream
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 pound goat cheese
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Blanch asparagus pieces in boiling water for 2 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.
2 Bring a large pot of salted water (1 teaspoon salt for every quart of water) to a boil. Prepare pasta according to package instructions while cooking chicken. Reserve a half cup of the cooking water for adding back to the pasta.
3 Heat butter in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the chicken strips to the pan in an even layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Do not stir, cook until lightly browned on one side. Add shallots and asparagus, cook for a minute longer. Add sherry and let boil down by half.
4 Add cream, nutmeg, goat cheese, and most of the Parmesan cheese (reserve some Parm to sprinkle on top when serving). Cook, stirring, until the cheese has fully melted and incorporated into the cream. Add the lemon juice (more or less to taste) and tarragon. Sprinkle on more black pepper to taste.
5 Place pasta in a serving bowl. Stir in the chicken asparagus cream sauce. Add as much of the reserved pasta cooking water as needed for a creamy texture for the pasta. Serve with reserved grated Parmesan.