Recipe adapted from Plenty
Preheat oven to 425°F as you prepare your ingredients.
Spread the asparagus out on a foil-lined baking sheet, sprinkle with 1 tsp each salt and pepper, and drizzle with about 2 Tbsp olive. Toss so that all pieces are evenly coated, and roast for 15-20 minutes until bright green but not burnt. When cooked to desired doneness, cut the asparagus into pieces about 1 inch in length.
In a small saucepan over medium high heat, lightly toast the panko for 5-10 minutes and toss with the minced preserved lemon. Remove from heat and set to the side until needed.
Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the chopped mushrooms for 5 minutes, sprinkling with 1 tsp each salt and pepper. Stir in the wine, bay leaves, thyme, and sugar. Bring to a gentle boil and allow the mixture to reduce by 1/3, about 10-15 minutes. Once reduced, stir the cream into the wine mixture, adding an additional 1 tsp salt and pepper (or more to taste), and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and keep warm.
While the wine mixture is reducing, start bringing a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Add 1 Tbsp salt and cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving a half cup of the cooking liquid.
Toss the the chopped asparagus and then the pasta in with the finished sauce, adding the reserved pasta water if needed to make a silkier texture. Turn the heat up to medium-low to warm things up and allow the flavors to mingle for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and remove and discard bay leaves.
Serve in heaping bowls, sprinkling with shaved parmesan and the toasted panko crunch.
Timing: This dish can absolutely be made in 30-40 minutes once you've made it a few times and get used to the steps. To do so you will have to multi-task, cooking multiple components at the same time. Allow yourself some extra time if you aren't used to this sort of cooking.
Preserved Lemon: If you can’t find preserved lemon, feel free to substitute one tablespoon lemon juice and/or lemon zest and mix into the toasted panko to get a similar flavor. It won’t be exactly the same, but it will add a similar brightness to the dish.
White Wine Options: Whenever a recipe calls for unspecified white wine, I always go for a variety I enjoy drinking on its own. For my part, I used a semi-dry Riesling (Hacienda Riesling 2014 to be exact), and the sauce was fantastic. I’d personally lean towards something semi-sweet or semi-dry, but feel free to experiment with your favorite variety.