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Linguine with Saffron, Tomatoes and Herbs


This pasta dish is made with a tasty vegetable stock that's simmered with saffron. It's easy to make with vegetables you probably have on hand (see Note). The linguine cooks in the fragrant stock, which turns the pasta bright yellow.

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  1. 1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
  2. 1/4 cup chopped pitted black olives, such as Gaeta (2 ounces)
  3. 2 tablespoons salted capers—soaked briefly, rinsed and coarsely chopped
  4. 2 anchovy fillets, mashed
  5. 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  6. 1 scallion, finely chopped
  7. 1 teaspoon minced thyme
  8. 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  9. 1/4 cup chopped basil
  10. 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  11. 2 tablespoons minced chives
  12. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  13. 8 asparagus (about 1/2 pound), cut on the diagonal into 1-inch lengths
  14. 4 slices lean bacon (3 ounces), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch matchsticks
  15. 1 cup dry white wine
  16. 4 quarts vegetable stock
  17. 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
  18. 1 1/2 pounds linguine
  1. In a large, shallow serving bowl, combine the tomatoes with the olives, capers, anchovies, celery, scallion and thyme. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and half of the basil, cilantro and chives and season with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside for up to 2 hours.
  2. In a large skillet of boiling salted water, cook the asparagus until almost tender, about 1 minute. Drain and refresh in cold water.
  3. In the same skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp, about 4 minutes. Add the wine and boil over high heat for 3 minutes. Stir in the asparagus and the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil and remove from the heat.
  4. In a large pot, bring the vegetable stock to a boil with the saffron. Cover and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Salt the stock generously and return to a boil over high heat. Add the linguine and cook, stirring, until al dente. Drain the linguine and add it to the bowl with the tomatoes. Add the asparagus mixture, season with salt and pepper and toss well. Sprinkle the linguine with the remaining half of the basil, cilantro and chives and serve at once.
Make Ahead
The recipe can be prepared through Step 3 up to 2 hours ahead. Reheat the asparagus before adding it to the pasta.
To make vegetable stock, combine 5 quarts of water with 1/4 cabbage, 2 carrots, 2 celery ribs, 6 garlic cloves, 1 medium onion, 4 scallions, 1/2 bunch of parsley, 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns and 4 thyme sprigs and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Season with salt and simmer over low heat for 1 1/4 hours. Strain the stock.