Rigatoni and Asparagus au Gratin (2)

160g Rigatoni                                                              40g parmesan cheese, grated
225 g prepared asparagus stalks                               275ml milk
1 ½ tbsps Extra virgin olive oil                                    20g plain flour
40g pecorino cheese, shaved                                    20g butter
I lb ripe tomatoes, skinned and chopped                    Grating of nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to Gas 6, 200 C.
2. Put the butter in a saucepan over a low heat and melt.Stir in the flour then gradually add the milk a little at a time, stirring to make a béchamel sauce.
3. Season with salt pepper and nutmeg then simmer over a low heat for 3 minutes.
4. Stir in the parmesan, turn off the heat, cover with a lid and set aside.
5. Cut the asparagus diagonally into pieces about the same size as the pasta.
6. Heat the oil in a 9” frying pan then sauté the asparagus over a fairly high heat for about 5 mins, stirring .
7. When the asparagus is starting to colour add the chopped tomatoes. Let them bubble and reduce for about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat.
8. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente, then drain in a colander.
9. Add the pasta to the asparagus mixture then stir in the cheese sauce and mix well. Check seasoning.
10. Butter an 8” gratin dish and tip in the mixture. Sprinkle with the shavings of pecorino.
11. Bake for about 10 minutes then serve straight away with a green salad.

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