I'm always amazed when something that seems really complex and "gourmet" is really, really easy to prepare and this recipe is a fine example.
I saw Mario Batali prepare this on the Today Show randomly the other day and it looked good, so I did some research and found the recipe. It could't be easier.
Tagliatelle Alfredo with Asparagus
1 pound asparagus, ends snapped off
1 pound fresh pasta, cut into tagliatelle or fettucine (can sub dry pasta)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
We'll assume you've already made your fresh pasta, or have acquired the dry version. Go ahead and have a pot of water on the boil. If you have dry pasta you're going to have to time this differently as the fresh pasta only needs 4 minutes to cook.
The only other prep is the asparagus. Snap them as you normally would, or use them whole. Totally up to you.
Grab a mandolin or patience and a sharp knife.
Cut them down, on the bias (I used the second smallest spacing on mine) until you get to the tip and keep that part whole.
Cut up your (ahem, stick of) butter.
Grab a big saute pan and get your butter on medium heat. If you're using fresh pasta, get it in the water now.
Once the butter has melted toss in your asparagus.
Saute the asparagus for about 2-3 minutes and add roughly a ladle full of the pasta water. This (according to Mario) is used to form an emulsion in the pan, to give the effect of the "classic American that's not really American alfredo" sauce.
I found that it did round out the sauce and kept it from gumming up, so it's worth the small step.
After you're pasta is finished (mine took about 4 minutes, but it depends on a lot of factors. Keep tasting samples of the pasta while it cooks) drain and toss it into the pan.
Toss to combine.
Finish with the parmesan. Toss to combine and check for salt and pepper. You'll want to add a bit of each.
We served with garlic bread and a salad, garnished with more parm.