Piccolini Pasta with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter


*Serves 3-4 with 1/2 box of pasta/4-6 with whole box.

1 pound fresh asparagus spears
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 tsp garlic powder [light sprinkling over asparagus before roasting]
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 TB balsamic vinegar
1/2 pound pasta of choice [ I had Piccolini, mini Ziti on hand]**You can add the whole box instead and leave sauce and cheese amounts the same, I just prefer a more equal pasta to veggie ratio.**
3 tablespoons butter/margarine, cut into pieces
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Snap [ or cut] the tough ends [bottom 2-2.5"] off the asparagus and discard them. Cut the asparagus spears into 1-inch pieces. Put the asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the oil and ¼ teaspoon of the salt , ¼ of the pepper and sprinkle lightly with garlic powder. Roast until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. [You can do this step with 1 TB olive oil or butter, in a covered skillet on the stove in the same 10 minutes over medium-low [abt 4 on dial] heat.]

While the asparagus roasts, put the vinegar, butter, 1/2 tsp salt and bit of pepper in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat about 5 minutes.

Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until just done, according to package directions. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Stir in the mixture. Add in the asparagus and Parmesan, toss to combine well. Serve immediately with additional Parmesan cheese for serving.

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