So, Duchesse of Passage des Perles suggested in a comment the other day that I roast my asparagus. After some mental whining (I don't have time to preheat my oven; YOU have an Aga; it's not "green" to heat up a big oven for a few veggies), I realized that I could roast the asparagus in my toaster oven. Break off the ends, wash them, put in pan with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. 15-20 minutes at 350.
What to have with them? In my quest to find the world's cheapest good--make that great--food, I discovered breadcrumbs for pasta. The immediate impetus for my search was, as might be expected in a bread-baking household, an abundance of dried bread. Bread crumb pasta is, no doubt, part of Italian cucina povera, poverty food. Breadcrumbs sauteed in garlicky oil serve as a substitute for parmesan cheese, which is very expensive in Italy (and every where else, deservedly so, I might add).
I cooked half a pound of pasta. I chose some good linguine, an Italian brand that claimed to be made with bronze dies. True gourmet fare, but I found this at Big Lots for a little more than $1.00/pound.
Meanwhile, I was sauteeing the breadcrumbs (about 1 1/2 cups made from good bread) in the garlicky oil (3 cloves) to which I added some red pepper flakes.
When all is done, simply drain the pasta, add some olive oil, then the breadcrumbs. Since cucina povera is an option for us rather than a necessity, we grated some parmesan (the real thing) on top.
We knew the pasta would be good. But the true delight was the roasted asparagus. Thank you, Duchesse: you are my mentor.
Dear readers, what do you do with asparagus? Do you have an amazingly cheap pasta sauce? Do share.