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Cacio e Pepe White Asparagus

The chef and co-owner of New York City’s The Noortwyck shares his recipe for springtime white asparagus in a beloved Italian sauce.

cacio e pepe white asparagus

Cacio e pepe white asparagus. Photo: Courtesy of The Noortwyck

When I think of cacio e pepe, the well-known pasta dish obviously comes first to mind. But the flavor profile lends itself well to other dishes, too. 

This is not such a surprising fact: cheese and pepper are delicious in most situations. However, it wasn’t until I had the pleasure of dining at The Noortwyck in early March that I truly considered this. 

While seated towards the back of the refined New American restaurant that opened in Greenwich Village in 2022, my friend and I ordered the Cacio e Pepe White Asparagus, a starter dish that has comfortably taken up real estate in my brain since our meal nearly a month ago. 

I knew I had to learn to make it at home. Thankfully, Andrew Quinn, chef and co-owner of The Noortwyck, generously shared his recipe with Appetito Magazine, along with some backstory as to how the recipe came to be.

The delicious dish developed on the heels of a cooking flop that provided just the right inspiration needed for Quinn.

“This dish came about after some recipe testing during our pre-opening,” Quinn says, noting he was making a green asparagus dish in another classic pasta preparation style: Carbonara

“The combination of green asparagus, eggs, pork/ham/bacon is a classic combo that I thought would be smart to do in this way,’ he says. “In the end, that dish didn't work out, but the idea of combining asparagus with a classic pasta preparation was born out of this.”

When the Noortwyck team pivoted to prepare white asparagus cacio e pepe style, they found a winner.

As for making it at home, the dish really entails a two-part recipe: for blanching (which can be done in bulk) and for serving (which is more centered on a single serving, per Quinn’s instructions below). 

If you’re making this for the first time, Quinn recommends making sure the sauce is “nice and tight.” By that, he means it should be reduced to a point where it’s just enough to glaze the asparagus. Then, cheese can be added once the dish is off the heat so as to avoid any curdling.

Cacio e Pepe White Asparagus

Cacio e Pepe White Asparagus

Recipe by Andrew Quinn
0.0 from 0 votes
Servings

10

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

15

minutes

Ingredients

  • For blanching
  • 40 40 each white asparagus from Loire

  • salt to taste

  • For the cacio e pepe white asparagus (per 1 serving)
  • 4 4 ea Blanched white asparagus

  • 1 Tbsp. 1 Cracked black pepper

  • 1 tsp 1 Cracked white pepper

  • 2 cups 2 Chicken stock

  • 1/2 stick 1/2 stick Butter

  • 1 cup 1 Pecorino romano, grated

  • 1 tsp 1 Fresh lemon juice

Directions

  • For blanching
  • Bring a large pot of heavily salted water up to a rolling boil and prepare an ice bath by filling a large mixing bowl with ice and water.
  • Peel all the white asparagus from the head down to the tip, making sure to peel evenly so there are no flat edges.
  • Drop the peeled asparagus into the boiling water in batches, ten spears at a time. Boil the asparagus until just tender, around 4 minutes.
  • Once cooked, immediately remove from the boiling water and drop into the ice bath to arrest the cooking and cool completely.
  • Remove the spears from the ice bath, shake off excess water and store on a kitchen towel on a tray in the refrigerator until needed.
  • For the cacio e pepe white asparagus (per 1 serving)
  • Place a saute pan that is just large enough to comfortably hold four spears of asparagus laying flat over a medium high heat.
  • Toast both the white and black cracked pepper in the pan until just starting to smoke and become fragrant.
  • Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a rapid boil.
  • Drop the white asparagus into the pan, followed by the butter.
  • Swirl the pan to emulsify the butter into the chicken stock and coat the asparagus.
  • Continue boiling the emulsion until reduced by two thirds.
  • Take off of the heat and add the lemon juice, followed by the cheese and swirl the pan again to melt the cheese into the emulsion.
  • Check for seasoning at this point, it may need a touch of salt.
  • Place the asparagus spears lined up into a pasta bowl and cover with the emulsion.
  • Finish with a fresh grating of pecorino cheese and serve.

Notes

  • Recipe is divided into 2 parts: Blanching all of the asparagus, then preparing the cacio e pepe white asparagus one serving at a time. Scale accordingly if you want to cook for 2, 4, or more.

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