When cooking homemade pasta, use 6 quarts boiling water with 1 tablespoon salt to every pound of pasta. If using store-bought pasta, follow package directions. Prep time: 30 minutes, Cook time: 15 minutes.
12 large asparagus, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch diagonal slices (about 2 cups)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, bruised with the side of a knife
2 cups red and yellow grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves
1 wedge (about 6 ounces) ricotta salata, sliced*
1 small bunch arugula, long stems trimmed and leaves torn into pieces (about 1 1/2 cups, packed)
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
How to Make It
Boil a large pot of salted water; add homemade cavatelli carefully, and cook, uncovered, 5 minutes or until pasta is almost tender, stirring gently. Stir in asparagus, and cook 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Set a large, shallow pasta bowl in the sink; place colander in the bowl. Pour pasta and asparagus into the colander to drain, reserving 1/4 to 1/2 cup cooking water. (This also warms the serving bowl.)
Heat oil and garlic in a large, deep skillet over medium-low heat 1 minute. Reduce heat to low, and cook 5 minutes, being careful not to brown garlic. Turn off heat. Stir in tomato and basil; discard garlic. Spoon pasta and asparagus into skillet; stir gently over medium heat 2 minutes or until combined. Add reserved pasta liquid, a little at a time, as needed to moisten pasta.
Pour water out of serving bowl; wipe dry, and fill with pasta. Add cheese and arugula; toss to combine. Add salt and pepper, and serve immediately.
*For testing purposes, we used Precious Brand whole milk ricotta. If ricotta isn't available, substitute with a mild feta or Pecorino Romano.