Pasta with Asparagus & Caramelized Onions

First off, I’d like to start a petition please to classify pancetta as a food group. Line forms behind me. Ok, now that we’ve got that out of the way, you won’t be surprised to hear that there is pancetta in this recipe, along with caramelized onions and asparagus. Cue the singing angels because it’s yummy. This has been a springtime staple now for 7 years in this house! Another delicious recipe from the bible, Fine Cooking.

Pasta with Asparagus & Caramelized Onions

3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 lb. pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed, peeled if thick, and cut on the diagonal into 2-inch pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup (about half a batch) Caramelized Onions
3/4 cup homemade or low-salt chicken broth
3/4 lb. dried gemelli, penne or rotini
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 tsp. sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, put 2 Tbs. of the oil and the pancetta in a 12-inch skillet or sauté pan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the pancetta begins to brown and renders much of its fat, 5 to 7 min. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a plate lined with paper towels. Raise the heat to medium high, add the asparagus, and season with 1/4 tsp. salt. Stir often until the asparagus starts to brown, about 3 min. Add the caramelized onions and chicken broth, reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and cook until the asparagus is tender, about 4 min. Stir in 1/4 tsp. pepper and set aside in a warm spot.

Cook the pasta in the boiling water, stirring often, until it’s just tender, about 11 min. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the asparagus. Set the pan over medium-high heat and toss well. Add 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano, the vinegar, and the cooked pancetta and continue cooking, stirring, for 1 min. to meld all the flavors. If the pasta begins to dry, add the reserved pasta water. Serve with a drizzle of the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil and a sprinkling of the remaining Parmigiano.

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