Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Asparagus + Cherry Tomatoes + Garlic + Pasta = the best damn spring pasta dish

One day this weekend, I ate a huge lunch therefore wanted a light dinner. However light is a relative term in my house; what I call light is appetizer portion for the husband and his light is a full course dinner for me. Browsing through the fridge, I noticed the asparagus on the verge of going bad so it had to be something with asparagus. I contemplated making mashed potatoes, roasted asparagus and roast chicken- not a light meal by any means but I wanted roasted asparagus, bad. Then I had an a-ha moment, a light meal with roasted asparagus? PASTA, of course! One pot pasta dishes are a go-to, easy dinners that I make when attempting to use last of my vegetables. They’re a favorite around here too! For this dish I got creative- roasted vegetables with pasta and a light butter sauce.

As an alternative, I roasted asparagus with cherry tomatoes and garlic. Roasted asparagus or any vegetable really, surprisingly taste nothing like their boiled or steamed counterparts. The oven transforms it into a nutty, aromatic and refreshing goodness. This was my first time making it and I am hooked; I liked it so much I munched on it while waiting for pasta to finish cooking.

And then there was the garlic. For those that don’t like it, garlic is like diamond in the rough. (You liked that, didn’t you?) Raw or sautéed garlic is strong and has a sharp bite therefore it isn’t appreciated by everyone. (shame on you!) So why the metaphor? Roasting heightens garlic’s sweetness and smooth flavor so you’ll fall head over heels for it. more or less. It’s a great addition to pasta dishes, mashed potatoes, and can be mixed into dips like hummus and baba ganoush. (if you look closely, there's a clove amongst the pasta.)

Pasta with Asparagus, cherry tomatoes and garlic

1 bunch of Asparagus spears
1/2 pound Cherry Tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
good olive oil
sea salt

1/4 package of any long pasta- spaghetti, fettuccine, or linguine will do
4 tbsp Butter, divided
1 tsp Red pepper flakes
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Sea salt, to taste
Slivered Almonds, optional (I like them for the crunchy texture)

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Snap off the woody ends off of the asparagus spears. Add asparagus, tomatoes and garlic to a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sea salt and combine to coat.

Roast the vegetables in the oven for 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven. Meanwhile cook the pasta in large pot of boiling water until al dente.

After taking the vegetables out of the oven, allow to cool. Using kitchen shears, cut asparagus in half or thirds. Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a medium pan on low heat. Mash garlic with fork and add to the pan with melted butter, cook for 30 seconds, then add cherry tomatoes and asparagus. Drain pasta and add it immediately to the pan with garlic and vegetables. Add additional 2 tbsp of butter, red pepper flakes, sea salt and grated parmesan. Combine and cook until everything comes together, about 3 minutes. Finally, add last of the butter and mix. Serve warm and if using, sprinkle on slivered almonds.

This was a light meal for me, yet substantial for the husband. a perfect combination.