Spring superstars: Annie Bell’s asparagus casarecce with prawns

Casarecce is one of my favourite pasta shapes that I often turn to instead of macaroni. This creamy sauce makes a star out of asparagus stalks.

prawns and asparagus pasta
Ellis Parrinder

SERVES 4

400g thick or thin asparagus spears, woody ends trimmed (about 300g prepared weight)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthways
80g crème fraîche
25g freshly grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
2 handfuls flat-leaf parsley leaves and fine stalks, plus extra, finely chopped, to serve
A fresh grating of nutmeg
350g casarecce pasta
150g cold-water prawns

  1. Cut off and reserve the asparagus tips, and thickly slice the remaining stalks. Drizzle 1 tbsp oil over the base of a small saucepan, scatter over the garlic and pile the sliced asparagus stalks on top. Add 100ml water, season and bring to the boil, then cover and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
  2. Tip the contents of the pan into a blender, add the crème fraîche, parmesan, parsley and a generous grating of nutmeg and whiz to a smooth, rich sauce the consistency of pouring cream. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Return this to the pan. Gently reheat to serve. (It can be made well in advance.)
  3. Bring a large and a small pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta to the large pan, give it a stir and cook according to the packet instructions until it is al dente. A few minutes before it is cooked add the asparagus tips to the small pan and cook for 2 minutes, then drain using a colander. Return to the pan and toss with the remaining 1 tbsp oil and some seasoning, then mix in the prawns and very gently warm through.
  4. Drain the pasta using a colander, return it to the pan, pour over the warm sauce and toss. Serve with the asparagus tips and prawns on top, scattered with extra parmesan, parsley and a drizzle of oil.

Recipes: Annie Bell. Photographs: Ellis Parrinder. Food styling: Lou Kenney. Styling: Charlie Phillips