1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Snap the tough ends off the asparagus and discard them. Cut the asparagus spears into 1-inch pieces. Put the asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the oil and ¼ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ of the pepper. Roast until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
While the asparagus roasts, put the vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until the vinegar is reduced to about 3 tablespoons, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar and the remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper. Remove from the heat.
Cook the penne in a large pot of boiling salted water until just done, 11-13 minutes. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Stir in the butter and vinegar mixture. Toss to combine well. Add in the asparagus, Parmesan, and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Serve immediately with additional Parmesan cheese for serving.
If asparagus aren’t in season, cut 1 pound of broccoli into small spears for roasting. Toss them with 2 tablespoon oil and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper and roast for about 15 minutes. Ok, if you want to take this to a whole new level, try browning the butter before adding it to the pasta.
The photo does not have penne. We were experiementing with different pastas. I would highly recommend penne.
I typically start simmering the vinegar at the very beginning on medium low. Cooking it too hot will cause it to go thick and goopy and burn to your pan. By cooking it a little lower, it takes longer, but if started at the beginning it's typically done about the same time as everything else.
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