Thursday, May 3, 2012

Asparagus and Pasta--Spring on the Table

I never ate asparagus for my mother.  
Growing up in the south, my sisters and I were introduced to a wide variety of
vegetables at an early age.  A pot of overcooked (for some tastes)
green beans with new potatoes and summer squash 
steamed on top was (and still is) a real treat.  Sunday dinner sometimes included as many as five,
sometimes more, vegetable dishes.

Asparagus came from a can.
Asparagus from a can is--well,  it is a word that
I never allowed our boys to use in describing food.

It was well into adulthood before I tried asparagus.
Even then I, in my first attempts, overcooked the green stalk.

The fact that asparagus is high in folate, potassium and vitamin C is an added bonus.
And, the fresher the better.

A few days ago, I found a basket of these perfect spears on the front porch.
"Asparagus for dinner" I called out to The Baker.  I'm still a bit indisposed and a lot spoiled.
He came through with flying colors.
I think it's the best, yet, asparagus and pasta dish!

Pasta with Asparagus, Tomatoes and Feta a combination of two Chicago Tribune recipes

2 pounds asparagus
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 ounce chunk of Parmesan, grated

1.  Snap off woody bottoms of the asparagus and peel the stalk.  Cut on the diagonal into 2 inch pieces.
2.  Place the asparagus into a bowl with the olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well and allow to stand fifteen minutes.
3.  Spread the asparagus in one layer on a baking.  Roast in a 500 degree oven about ten minutes, shaking the pan a few times during that time.
4.  Transfer the asparagus and any juices back to the bowl.  Add more salt and pepper to taste, stir in the Parmesan and set aside.

8 ounces penne pasta (cooked according to package directions)
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 each, halved red and yellow tomatoes
1/2 cup each crumbled feta and freshly grated Parmesan
salt and pepper
6 basil leaves, thinly sliced

5.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat; stir in the garlic and tomatoes.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are slightly softened and the garlic is golden--about five minutes.
6.  Stir in the cooked and drained pasta.
7.  Stir in the asparagus, the feta and the parmesan.  Garnish with the basil.