Food From Fiction 11: Scott Pilgrim’s Lemony Baked Pasta Thing with Asparagus

So anyway, dinner’s pretty much ready. We’ve got this sort of, um, baked pasta thing, I don’t know how to describe it. It’s a bit early for asparagus, but it has asparagus, and it’s kind of lemony, and it’s got a little too much cheese… I just don’t exactly have a recipe so I’m not really sure what to call it.” – from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Marie had so much fun with this year’s Food From Fiction research that she has not stopped reading and eating. Here’s her latest report.

First of all, I doubt whether it was super realistic for Scott Pilgrim to make this dish. I know that the comic says he did, and I know that he did eventually figure out how to do more than one thing at a time because he did manage to win some awesome battles. Still, I really question that he would have had the ability to handle this. Not that it’s super hard, but there are a couple of points where there were several things going simultaneously, and I just don’t think he would have been able to do that this early in the storyline. (It is in the second of six volumes.)

I found this recipe at the delightful Cookfiction. I am giving the original directions, which make WAAAAY to much for two people to eat. I cut the recipe in half and there was some left over with three of us eating (as expected, the five year-old turned up his nose for the sole reason that he hadn’t been eating it all his life). Scott would have had leftovers if he had used this version, but then, the writer for Cookfiction probably was scaling it for the number of expected eaters in their household.

Cooking the asparagus is easy. Just snap the stems, sprinkle with olive oil, pepper and salt, and lay lemon slices over them, then bake. I’m still getting used to the oven at my new place and it runs hot, so my asparagus wound up a little more done than I’d have preferred even though I pushed the heat down to 375. After pulling the asparagus out of the oven, cut it into about thirds, or bite size.

1 bunch asparagus
salt & pepper
about 1 tbsp olive oil
3-4 lemon slices

Making the too cheesy sauce is also pretty easy. You will want to do it while the pasta is boiling. Melt the butter over medium, slowly whisk in the flour and then the milk, simmer until thick and all the lumps are smoothed out, then remove from the heat and stir in the cheese.

4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
1 3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup Parmesan
salt & pepper

Mixing and baking the pasta: preheat the oven to 375 (or just turn it down a bit after having pulled out the asparagus roasted earlier) and drain the boiled pasta (cooked to al dente) and place it in a baking dish. Add the sauce. Add thyme, basil, lemon juice, and mozzarella (I also pulled back the cheese as our teenager is far less fond of cheesy deliciousness than Scott Pilgrim or the rest of us happen to be). Cover and bake 15 minutes, then remove foil and bake another 7-8 minutes. Serve with a portion of asparagus and an additional sprinkling of lemon juice, parmesan, and mozzarella. Garnish with parsley, if desired. Serve with garlic bread and salad.

I suppose if you do each step individually instead of trying to get it all done in a timely manner, Scott could have accomplished the task. But I had no desire for cold asparagus, or for the milk sauce to develop a skin while I boiled pasta separately.

It turned out fairly well. I would do it again, but adding more cheese and using lower heat (or fatter asparagus spears).

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