Asparagus & Pancetta Penne with Jukes 5

We have recently launched our summer limited edition Jukes 5 and as part of a ‘press pack’, we thought it rather jolly to send various food and drink writers a box of Jukes 5 and a bunch of asparagus with an accompanying cartoon illustration by our great friends Zebedee Helm.  As you know, Jukes drinks are designed to go with a wide range of cuisines and Jukes 5 is no exception, it being an extremely summery and refreshing creation.  But with the asparagus season upon us, we felt that this month’s recipe should be a little more exciting than the classic, but straightforward, starter of blanched asparagus with olive oil and parmesan shavings, so here we go with a delicious asparagus-themed main course!

Ingredients -

2 bunches of Asparagus 

200g Pancetta cut into small matchsticks

400g Penne pasta

Ricotta (optional)

2-3 Egg yolks depending on size

Parmesan, grated

Extra virgin Olive oil

Method -

Clean and trim the asparagus and boil in a large pan of salted water for 3-4 minutes. You need to ensure that they are still crunchy.  Fish them out with a slotted spoon keeping the pan of water and then plunge the asparagus into ice-cold water to stop them cooking any further.  Then cut them into sticks the size of the penne pasta.

Bring the same pan of water up to the boil again and add the penne and cook until al dente - it will gather some flavour from being cooked in the asparagus-flavoured water. 

At the same time, gently fry the pancetta in a touch of oil in a frying pan until golden and then remove it from the pan and leave it on some kitchen roll to absorb any excess oil.

Drain the penne, keeping some of the pasta water aside. 

In the pan, pour back the penne, the asparagus sticks and the pancetta and add a glug of olive oil.  Warm the pan on a low heat and stir in the egg yolks and some of the pasta water until you have a creamy consistency that sticks to the penne.  Grate in plenty of Parmesan and black pepper to taste.  If you would like it a little creamier then add a spoonful of ricotta or cream.