Sweet Potato Orzo with Mascarpone Sauce, Asparagus Tips & Truffle Oil

I love discovering a new food and on a recent trip to Pike’s Market in Seattle I stumbled across a dried pasta vendor selling Pappardelle‘s products. They had a myriad of flat cut and pasta blends… but the one that sounded best to me was the Sweet Potato Orzo. Oh my heavenly word… I purchased a pound of it (it’s actually cheaper to do so online… check the above link).

I couldn’t wait to get home and start experimenting! Keep an eye out – I also bought chocolate linguine… and I’m trying that out next week!

I started researching a few ideas of how to best bring out the flavors of this new pasta… and came up with the following recipe. The final touch was when I added white truffle oil.. prior to that, it was a good taste. But I didn’t get that “wow” factor until I added a couple of drops of the precious truffle oil – also a Pike’s Market treasure. I’m always looking to get that “oh… my… gosh…” response when I ask a willing friend to try a bite. Definitely got it this time.

(serves 6)
1lb Sweet Potato Orzo
1/3 cup fresh asparagus tips (cut 1″ to 1.5″ tip off of stalk)
1 clove garlic minced
1/3 cup shelled, toasted pine nuts (toast your self at 3 min on top rack of a 350 degree oven)
4 tblspns butter
7 oz mascarpone or cream cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp of Truffle oil for drizzling

Ready To Cook?
Melt butter in skillet and sauté garlic until golden brown. Add asparagus tips and continue stirring for 3 minutes and remove from heat.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in 6-8 quarts of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente. While pasta is cooking, add the mascarpone (or cream cheese) to the garlic/butter mixture and heat on low until asparagus tips are tender. Be careful not too overcook or asparagus will become mushy. Should be done in 3-5 minutes.

Drain pasta (don’t rinse), toss in the Parmesan and pine nuts and transfer to serving dish. Stir in sauce. Top each serving with a sprinkle of Parmesan and 1-2 drops of white truffle oil. Be careful as a little goes a long way. Serve at once.

The Perfect Bite
Be sure to get a little sweet potato orzo, pine nut and asparagus on your fork. The blend of sweet potato and pine nut with the buttery cheesiness of the mascarpone… will be reminiscent of the candied yam casserole your mom used to make at Thanksgiving. But combined with the asparagus, Parmesan and truffle oil… your pallet will be surprised with a profile of favors you might not have experienced before. Enjoy!

The Perfect Pairing
What better pairing for this unique blend of flavors than a blend of reds from Cline Cellars? Cline’s Cashmere 2007 is a silky blend of Mourvèdre, Syrah and Grenache. With a purchase of this 2007 Cashmere… Cline Cellars will donate $25,000 to the Breast Cancer Network of Strength’s Ride to Empower. Visit their website to learn more.

Did You Know?
To quote Julia Child, “Don’t be afraid!” Truffle Oil is one of those mysterious ingredients we hear about on Food Network cooking shows like Top Chef Masters… but most of us really have no idea what to do with it. White Truffles (Tuber aestivum), often called Autumn Truffles, are even more rare than Black Truffles. Their distinctive, subtle flavor uniquely complements pasta, cheese and fish dishes.


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