*PASTA WITH ASPARAGUS IN A LEMON CREAM SAUCE*
From Cucina Simpatica, by Johanne Killeen and George Germon

2-1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon minced lemon zest
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano (or Parmigiano-Reggiano) (1.5 ounces)
1/2 cup shredded fontina (1.5 ounces)
2 tablespoons ricotta
1 teaspoon kosher salt
12 ounces fresh asparagus, trimmed and sliced 1/8″ thick on the diagonal
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 pound conchiglie rigate (pasta shells) or penne rigate

1. Preheat oven to 500°F.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the cream, lemon zest, cheeses, and salt. In a small bowl, toss the asparagus with the melted butter.

4. Parboil the pasta for 4 minutes, drain, and stir into cream mixture.

5. Divide the pasta mixture into 4 shallow ceramic gratin dishes (or just use one 9×13 pan). Top with the asparagus, placing it in a circle around the outside edges of the baking dishes. Bake until pasta is bubbly and hot and well-browned in spots, 10-13 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings