1 1/2 pounds asparagus
1 pound penne or casarecce pasta
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for
Meanwhile, rinse the asparagus, snap off the tough tower stems, and discard them. Cut off 1'/2 inches of the asparagus tips and reserve, Chop the rest of the stems. Cook the asparagus tips in boiling water to cover for 3 or 4 minutes, until tender. Remove to a colander with a slotted spoon and set aside. In the same pot blanch the chopped asparagus stems for 6 or 7 minutes, until tender. Drain, rinse in cold water, and reserve separately.
Cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente. While the pasta cooks, puree the asparagus stems, lemon juice, and olive oil in a blender or food processor until smooth. If necessary, add a little of the hot pasta water. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Drain the pasta and transfer it to a large bowl. Stir in the asparagus puree, the asparagus tips, and the grated cheese. If the pasta has cooled, stir it in a pot on high heat for I or 2 minutes, until hot. Serve immediately.