Penne with Walnuts & Blue Cheese

Penne with Asparagus, Arugula, Walnuts, and Blue Cheese

Time: 20-30 minutes     Yield:  4 to 6 as a main dish

1     tablespoon table salt
1/2  teaspoon table salt
1     pound cavatappi
5     tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1     pound asparagus, bottom 1 inch trimmed and discarded, spears halved lengthwise if larger than           1/2 inch in diameter and cut into 1-inch lengths
1/2  teaspoon ground black pepper
1     cup walnuts, chopped
4     cups arugula (lightly packed), washed and dried thoroughly (or substitute baby spinach)
6     ounces blue cheese, crumbled
2     tablespoons cider vinegar
1     Granny Smith apple, peeled, for grating over pasta

1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in stockpot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta, stir to separate, and cook until al dente. Drain and return to pot.

2. While pasta is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until beginning to smoke. Add asparagus, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, without stirring, until asparagus begins to brown, about 1 minute. Add walnuts and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until asparagus is tender-crisp and nuts are toasted, about 4 minutes; toss in arugula until wilted. Add asparagus mixture, cheese, vinegar, and remaining 3 tablespoons oil to pasta in stockpot; toss to combine. Serve immediately, grating apple over individual servings.