2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 bunch of asparagus - ends trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium onions - chopped
4 large garlic cloves - finely minced
2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1-tablespoon fresh basil 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon
1/2 tablespoon fresh oregano
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese - with additional cheese to garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
1-pound penne pasta
¼ cup pine nuts - toasted
Start by heating up a large pot of water to cook the pasta.
Trim the ends of the asparagus and then cut each stalk into ½ inch pieces.
Chop the onions finely and mince the garlic. Fine chop the basil, tarragon & oregano.
Grate your Parmesan cheese or have it standing by in a cheese grater.
When the water comes to a boil, add some salt and then the pasta and cook to al dente. If you have done all the prepping while the water comes to a boil, the sauce should be done about the same time the pasta takes to cook.
It is better to have the pasta under-cooked since you will be finishing it off in the sauce but try not to overcook the pasta so it loses its crispness.
While the pasta is cooking, heat up a large sized sauté pan or fry pan over medium-high heat. You could also cook this in a large saucepan.
Add the butter and oil and when hot, add the asparagus and sauté for about 3 minutes. Remove the asparagus from the pan and keep warm.
Add the onions, garlic & a little more olive oil if needed to the pan and sauté until the onions become translucent & golden in color, about 8 - 10 minutes.
Now add the diced tomatoes with juice, basil, tarragon, oregano and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
At this point, I like to take about ¼ cup of the water the pasta has been cooking in and add it to the sauce. Let the sauce come to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium and let the sauce simmer until it thickens about 8 minutes.
Add the asparagus back to the pan and cook until tender but still crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the pasta to the pan, along with the grated Parmesan and toss gently. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
If you like it a little spicier, you can always add a shake from the hot red pepper flakes in the back of your spice cabinet. Be careful, a little goes a long way.
Serve family style in one big bowl or individually plate the pasta and have some extra grated Parmesan cheese on hand.