April 10, 2013

Spring Pasta

In honor of spring, I thought it would be fitting to make something utilizing one of my favorite vegetables of the season - asparagus.  I decided to make a dish that I invented when I was in college.  Back then I used canned asparagus, which is something I probably wouldn't even consider doing now.  Not that there's anything wrong with canned veggies....it's just that for me, fresh is best!

I have never made this dish for my family before, so I was a little worried they wouldn't like it.  Especially my husband.  For him, if you are eating pasta then it must be drowned in tomato sauce.  No pesto sauce, no cheese sauce, etc.  When I told him what I was making I could tell he was thinking "Yuck" but all he said was "interesting."  Lucky for me, he will eat whatever I put on the table.  Even if he doesn't like it.  While that is something I love about him, sometimes he feels the need to tell me something is good when he didn't really care for it.  This can be frustrating when I am looking for an honest answer.  I think he's learned his lesson now though - he discovered that if he doesn't want to eat something ever again he better tell me or else he may be eating it more often than he'd like! 

Luckily, both my husband and son enjoyed this meal.  Phew!  I'm really glad they liked it because I happen to think it's a nice change from the usual spaghetti and meatballs.  This is a light and refreshing springtime meal, which makes me so happy because that means summer is coming!  

Spring Pasta (serves 4)

2 bunches of asparagus, thicker ends trimmed off
2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded (about 2 chicken breasts)
3/4 box of bow tie pasta (really you can use any type of pasta you like)
2 tsp garlic, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil + extra
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese + extra
1/2 cup of the water used to cook the pasta in, reserved
2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 375, and line a cookie sheet with tin foil.  Spread your trimmed asparagus onto the pan, and drizzle some olive oil over top (about 2 tbsp).  Sprinkle on the lemon juice and add salt and pepper.  Toss to combine, then fold up all four sides of the tin foil (it doesn't have to be completely closed) and roast asparagus in the oven for 20-30 minutes.  While the asparagus is cooking, cook the chicken breasts - this can be done in the oven or on the stove top in a pan.  After it's cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, shred it or cut it into bite size pieces.  When the asparagus is done cooking, remove it from the oven and cut the stalks into thirds.  

Cook your pasta in a large saucepan, seasoned generously with salt.  Heat a medium sized skillet over medium heat.  Add a 1/4 cup of olive oil and the 2 tbsp of garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add the asparagus and saute for 3-5 minutes.  Add the chicken and saute for another 2-4 minutes (or long enough to heat everything through).  When the pasta is ready, drain it but keep a 1/2 cup of the water you cooked the pasta in.  Add the pasta to a large bowl, then add in the chicken & asparagus mixture.  Toss to combine, then add the 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.  Drizzle in about a 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water, then stir well to combine.  Here's where you may have to play with it a little - if it seems "dry" add more of the reserved water, and maybe even drizzle in a little more olive oil until you reach the consistency you like.  Bon Appetit!