Conchiglioni pasta with asparagus,almond, and turmeric bechamel

When most people think of pasta the first thing that comes to mind is heavy tomato-based sauces.This particular recipe is a very non-traditionalist approach to the pasta sauces we have become used to, but is light and perfect for a balmy summer supper.It has entirely new-to-me flavour combinations,and offers a refreshingly new alternative from the tomato excess we experience at this time of year.
With  spring fully sprung, we see new produce appearing in the  markets, something that will remain for a few months and we should definitely take advantage of is asparagus. It is one of those symbolic summer vegetables that in May and June I find Irresistible to create dishes with. Low in calories, high in fibre and water, asparagus is a delicate and refreshing product.I picked up some new season asparagus while across the bridge in Spain.Always wanting to be aware of food miles and the origin of the food I am purchasing, I dutifully examined the minimal plastic label attached to my bunch of asparagus,the main stems being held together by a recyclable rubber band.The source I found was a small agricultural cooperative founded 20 years ago on 17th January, 1995, in the region of Ventorros de San José (Loja),Western Granada where a group of thirty farmers devoted to their farming, decided to create a small cooperative aimed to boost the commercialisation of their production.400 kilometres (250miles)from field to plate satisfied my conscious. This bunch of asparagus was ethical and had not been shunted around the world and back again.I was happy and set about incorporating it into a pasta dish along with some local Algarvian almonds and an amped up bechamel sauce.I hope you like it as much as we did.As a possible addition some crispy fried ham or pancetta and some parmesan could have been added.
Serves 6
1/4 cup (30g whole almonds
6oz (180g) asparagus,cut into2-inch(5cm pieces
Flor de sal and freshly ground black pepper
20g butter
21/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
11/2 cups 350ml milk
1 tsp flor de sal
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
600g conchiglioni rigati,lumaconi or other shell like pasta

Preheat the oven to 325F (160C /gas mark 3).line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Arrange the almonds on the lined baking tray and toast in the oven until golden brown,about 6 minutes.roughly chop and set aside.
In a medium frying pan,heat 5 tablespoons water over a medium heat.Add the asparagus and cook until al dente,about 10 minutes.Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.Meanwhile in a medium saucepan,melt the butter over a medium-high heat until foaming.add the flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula until bubbling,1 to 2 minutes.Remove from the heat and slowly add the milk,whisking constantly,until the mixture is smooth.return to the heat and cook,stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula,until the sauce begins to boil and is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon,10 to 12 minutes.remove from the heat and stir in the salt and turmeric.
Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil over a medium heat.add the pasta and cook until al dente.Drain well.Toss with the asparagus and bechamel.Divide among 6 bowls and scatter the toasted almonds over the top.


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