The secret to success to this and most all plant based dishes is impeccably fresh ingredients. Canned or frozen substitutes are not recommended. Fresh, pencil thin asparagus is perfect for this dish. If not available, buy the thinnest you can find, trim the tips from the stalks and cut the stalks into 2” lengths.
Recipe serves 6 for dinner or 8 as a smaller first course.
3 large cloves of garlic – roasted for about 25 minutes in their skins
3 pints of cherry or grape tomatoes – halved (if you can get mixed red and yellow it adds interest)
1 ½ T. fresh thyme leaves
1 lb. fresh asparagus (see note above for preparation)
¼ cup pitted kalamata olives
½ cup fresh basil
¼ cup white wine
Squeeze the garlic from its skins into a large skillet. Add the rest of ingredients and mix well. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is reduced and thickened to a sauce (coulis) – about 20 to 30 minutes.
While coulis is cooking bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Al dente is a key to good tasting pasta in Italy but even as importantly; it also keeps the glycemic index low for digestion.
If you feel confident enough of knowing when the pasta has a minute left to cook, add the asparagus to the same pot and drain together. If you are not yet confident to do this, gently steam the asparagus separately.
Drain the pasta well and place in a bowl. Add tomato coulis and the olives. Toss well to combine. Serve at once. Note: you can add the “restaurant technique” to the finale of this dish by placing the drained pasta back into the pan with the coulis, toss and cook together for 2 – 3 minutes. This technique richly infuses the tastes together.