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Trofie Pasta with Cockles, Chiles and Black Bean Sauce



12 thin asparagus spears, trimmed

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

3 large shallots, thinly sliced

One 750-milliliter bottle dry white wine

2 bay leaves

3 tablespoons Chinese black bean–garlic sauce

1 fresh red chile, seeded and minced

1 pound artisanal trofie or fusilli

4 dozen cockles, scrubbed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped parsley

  • In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the asparagus until just tender, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus to a work surface, let cool and cut into 1-inch lengths. Reserve the water for the pasta.
  •  In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter. Add the garlic and shallots and cook over moderately low heat until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add the wine and bay leaves and boil over high heat until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaves, stir in the black bean–garlic sauce and chile, cover and remove from the heat.
  •  Return the water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente; drain and return to the pot.
  •  Bring the black bean sauce to a boil. Add the cockles, cover and cook over high heat until they open, 2 minutes. Stir in the asparagus. Add the pasta and toss. Season with salt and pepper, add the parsley and serve.