Early Summer Recipes: Hot Lemon Asparagus Linguine and a Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

I made a couple of wonderful seasonal dishes this weekend, and I knew I had to share the recipes with you. Asparagus, strawberries, and rhubarb are all healthy ingredients that are only available local and fresh for a couple of months a year - at least in Germany - so I try to grab them whenever I see them.

This pasta dish is a lovely way to use fresh asparagus. It is delicious, quick and simple to make, and we all loved it. The flavor combination of the garlic cream sauce with lemon and asparagus is wonderful.

Hot Lemon Asparagus Linguine with Parmesan

1 pound (500 g) thin asparagus spears
2 Tbsp. butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound (500 g) dried linguine or your favorite pasta
2 Tbsp. olive oil
juice of one lemon, plus 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
salt and freshly ground pepper
freshly grated parmesan cheese

Bring a medium sized pot of water to boil. Meanwhile, trim the woody stems of the asparagus spears and cut into 2 - 3" pieces, slicing diagonally. Blanch the asparagus in boiling water until stems turn bright green - about 3-5 minutes. Then remove from pot and rinse with cold water, drain, and set aside.

In a small pot, melt butter and saute minced garlic cloves briefly. Add cream and let cook at a very low simmer, stirring frequently. While cream sauce reduces, cook your linguine noodles or other pasta according to package directions.

Heat olive oil in a separate pan, and add asparagus stems. Stir in hot garlic cream sauce and add salt to taste. Continue simmering.

When pasta is cooked, drain and return to pot. Pour over cream sauce with asparagus and mix well. Add fresh pressed lemon juice and lemon zest and give all another good stir.

Serve immediately topped with grated parmesan cheese and freshly ground pepper. A delicious early summer pasta dinner with a salad and a cool glass of crisp white wine.

Note: It is important to serve the pasta immediately for a creamy, delicious sauce - otherwise the cream and lemon sauce may begin to separate. But don't let this scare you away, this pasta is definitely worth it.

If you are up for dessert, this is a great recipe to try which combines strawberries and rhubarb. I love the tart, slightly sweet flavor and it is also quite simple to make.

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

This is my favorite foolproof recipe, or of course you can use your own favorite pastry recipe 

1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
1 1/2 cups sliced rhubarb - about 2 stalks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp. butter 

1-2 Tbsp. milk
1-2 tsp. sugar

whipped cream or ice cream - optional

Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Make the filling by combining strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, flour, and pinch of salt in a large bowl. Mix gently and thoroughly.

Roll out your pastry dough to a large thin circle, about 18-20" in diameter. Carefully place the pastry dough in a large ceramic quiche or tart form - or use a lined baking sheet for a free form tart. Spoon the filling in the middle of the dough circle, and dot with butter. Gently fold up the sides of the dough, leaving some space open in the middle of the tart to allow steam to escape. Brush pastry with milk and sprinkle with a bit of sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350ºF (175ºC) and continue baking for another 30-40 minutes until crust is golden. This tart has the tendency to bubble over a bit and may puff during baking. 

Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. This tart tastes especially wonderful served warm, and many people like it with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream on the side.

Enjoy! I'm sending summer love to you :)