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Monday, November 7, 2011

Meatless Mondays with La Bella Figura

It's been so busy over here in the LBF studio lately! I'm definitely not complaining, but I've barely had time to menu plan or grocery shop, let alone cook dinner. Thank goodness for some of the frozen dinners at Trader Joe's. I'm not a big fan of frozen meals, but they have some decent choices, and sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's got to do.

Not being able to justify another frozen meal for dinner, I was trying to think of something quick, easy, and tasty. Then my husband remembered a pasta recipe I tried a few months back that he really liked. I found the recipe from a blog called Mel's Kitchen Cafe. It's really satisfying and quite delicious with the flavors of roasted asparagus and balsamic reduction. Of course, I had to put my own little spin on it by adding toasted pine nuts; I think that nutty flavor makes it something a little more special, and as an added bonus, pine nuts are high in B vitamins and vitamin E.

Asparagus has to be one of my favorite vegetables. It's great for your body, especially your skin. It's loaded with antioxidants, vitamin B6, thiamin, vitamin C, folic acid, sodium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, sulfur, vitamin A, vitamin K, manganese,  and potassium. It also contains silica, which promotoes healthy hair, nails and a glowing complexion.
Because the recipe calls for cheese and butter, it is not veganr. I suppose you can use a vegan butter substitute, such as Earth Balance, and a vegan Parmesan substitute. If anyone tries it, please let me know how it works out.

Penne with Balsamic Butter and Roasted Asparagus

1 pound fresh asparagus spears cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt and more salt to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup balsamic vinegar (I added another 1/8 cup)
1and 1/4 teaspoon light or dark brown sugar
1 pound penne pasta, mostaccioli, or zitit
4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces (I use unsalted so I can control the amount of salt in the recipe)
 2-3 tablespoon pine nuts
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for serving

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the asparagus on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and 1/4 tsp of the salt and black pepper. Roast until tender and just starting to brown in spots about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

While the asparagus roasts, put the the pine nuts in a small skillet over medium heat and toast the pinenuts until golden, tossing frequently. Start your pasta water.

Put the vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until the vinegar is reduced to about 3 tablespoons, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar and some freshly ground black pepper.

Cook the penne according to directions on the package. Put a  ladle or two of the pasta water in a bowl. Drain the pasta water and immediately return it to the pot, do not drain it for to long. Stir in the butter and vinegar mixture. Toss until pasta is coated, adding  a bit of the pasta water to help coat. Add in the asparagus, Parmesan, toasted pine nuts and the salt to taste.

I hope you enjoy this delicious and easy recipe. I'm so glad I found this on Mel's blog! Stay tuned for next week's Meatless Monday recipe.
                                                                                                        En Bonne Sante,


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