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.


valereee said...

Yum! I love asparagus and pasta, and the roasted tomatoes sound great with it.

valereee said...

Yum! I love asparagus and pasta, and the roasted tomatoes sound great with it.

liberal foodie said...

we loved it. I can't believe it's taken me this long to try it at home.

liz said...

this looks amazing, i am going to have to try it!

if you have a toaster oven, i like to use that to roast rather than turning on my regular oven in the summer. you can do all kinds of things in there, i use it a lot for broiled salmon and to make tuna or tomato melt sandwiches.

liberal foodie said...

thank you. let me know how you like it!

I have a toaster oven that bakes, roasts and toasts, too. The husband and I are quarrel about using it for cooking. I argue that for real roasting or baking, the big oven should be turned on and he disagrees. I think you just helped him win that one.

Anonymous said...

seriously, if i could die smelling one thing, it would probably be garlic sauteing in butter. unfortunately, i'll prob. be smelling my own Depends, but I'd rather it be garlic and butter.

just found your blog, gonna poke around.

Veggie Option said...

Yum! Sounds and looks gorgeous!

sher said...

Isn't it marvelous how great roasting makes things taste? Beautiful dish.

liberal foodie said...

we are never full- thanks for visiting. I agree, I'll probably pass in an unpleasant smelling room or worse yet, in confined quarters of 4 white walls with disinfectant smells. ew

sauted or roasted garlic sounds so much better to go out on.

vo- thanks!

sher- When I roast vegetables, I am amazed by the tastes and smells, everytime.

Anonymous said...

i love dinners like this. roasted veggies are the bomb diggity, they can even transform blah veggies (like bland pre-season tomatoes) into something dinner-worthy.

i have all these ingredients in my house, and no plan for dinner tonight...hmmm.

liberal foodie said...

michelle- thanks for stopping by. I made a roasted tomato sauce 2 years ago and loved it. I think the time it takes to heat up the oven and roast the veggies keeps me from doing it more often.

You should try this dish! Let me know how it goes.

Chris S said...

You can always grill the veggies to a similar effect. Thats how I do my pasta salad. Even garlic roasts quite well on the grill (just the foil wrap/chopped top/with oil and salt/pepper technique). Keeps the kitchen cool and the flavors rich ;)

Amber said...

I used to just roast asparagus but with the warmer weather, I love to throw it on the grill. I use a grill pan so it doesn't fall through the grates and I like mine slightly charred.

I just checked out the grilling bible from the library because I intend to be a grill master by the end of the summer. I should probably take a class or two.....:)

liberal foodie said...

chris- thanks for the grilling suggestion. Once I get over my grilling intimidation, I'll share lots of grill top recipes. In class last quarter, I over oiled my veggies and ruined them. Thankfully the chef was nice enough to understand and gave points for my rosemary roasted potatoes.

cin twin- let me know how you like the book. I've been meaning to browse grilling books. Read previous comment to chris.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

This looks lovely and simple. I'm all for roasting aspargus. The only way I enjoy eating it is putting it in the oven till it gets nice crusty brown spots on it.

No matter how you cook it though, you still have the same...um...side effects.

Mallika said...

Oooooh. Loving this. Very Spring meets Summer meets season food! I reckon I might try this for lunch next week.

Chris S said...

There is only one secret to great grilling, low and slow ;)

Unknown said...

I lived in Europe for year about 13 years ago, based in Paris but spent a lot of time in Rome. I would stay up to two weeks at a time at this one particular hotel on the outskirts of Rome, which had the only restaurant in the area that did not require a cab ride. So, I would eat there most nights. After being there for my 3rd two-week stretch, the menu became a little boring and the waiter could see I was getting a bit tired of the same menu. He suggested that he just have the chef create something for me and it was always wonderful. One night he brought me a simple pasta dish that was the best thing I had ever eaten. Simple yet very tasty. It was asparagus, cherry tomatos, garlic and olive oil over pasta. I have not had it since then, not sure why, but I had a craving today and decided to look up something on the 'net. Your recipe sounds wonderful and I plan to make it for dinner tonight.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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LutheranChik said...


Love this recipe. I very often grill asparagus on my little contact grill, with olive oil and kosher salt, with very good results. And I've also wrapped similarly oiled/salted asparagus spears in foil and finished them in the charcoal grill.

Nice blog...I'm doin' some locovorious blogging at Mid-Michigan Foodie -- there are pockets of activity in the local/organic food movement in Michigan, but it's largely frontier territory for such stuff. Wish me luck!