July 14, 2006

Asparagus with Lemon and Olives (Summer)

Makes – 6 cups (1.5 L)
Serves – 4 – 1 ½ cups (375 mL) per serving

This is a perfect summer pasta dish, light, lemony and packed full of fresh asparagus.
You can easily serve this as a vegetarian entrée and sprinkle each serving with
2 Tbsp. (30 mL) walnuts or skip the nuts go carnivore and serve it with grilled chicken.

2 cups (500 mL) uncooked whole wheat rotini pasta
2 tsp. (10 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 large leek
1 cup sliced shallots, see sidebar
1 lb. (500 g) asparagus
8 olives, pitted and chopped
Zest of 1 lemon, approx. 1 Tbsp. (15 mL)
¼ cup (50 mL) fresh lemon juice
¼ – ½ tsp. (1 -2 mL) red pepper flakes

1. Put a medium pot of water on to boil.
2. If you time this out right, your dinner will be ready to serve as soon as the pasta is cooked. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, prep your veggies: slice cleaned leeks into ¼ inch (5 mm) slices. Cut shallots in half and thin slice into ¼-inch (5 mm) slices.
3. Cut off woody stalks of the washed asparagus and then slice the remaining stalks into thirds. Discard woody stocks.
4. Somewhere right around now, the water should be boiling, add dry pasta and boil till cooked, approx. 7-9 minutes.
5. Zest lemon. Roll the lemon on the counter, cut in half and squeeze out juice, if you’re lucky and that was a large lemon you’ll get the ¼ cup (50 mL) that you need, if not squeeze another half a lemon.
6. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat; add oil, leeks and shallots, sauté for 3 minutes.
7. Add asparagus and sauté for 3 more minutes. Is your pasta ready? When it is, drain and set aside, don’t even think about rinsing it.
8. The asparagus should be done, add the cooked pasta, olives, lemon juice, lemon zest and red pepper flakes. Toss well to coat and serve.

Each serving contains – 290 calories, 5 g total fat, 0.5 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat, 105 mg sodium, 56 g CHO, 7 g fibre, 12 g protein

What the heck does 1 cup of sliced shallots look like?
It looks like a lot of shallots. Buy 10 small ones, 4 French shallots, or 2 large ones and start slicing.

How the heck do you cook pasta?
Use lots of water to boil pasta and don’t add oil. Bring the water to the boil, add the pasta and give it a stir to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Bring it back to the boil and then begin timing. When it’s cooked, drain, but never rinse. Rinsing does two evil things. One it rinses off nutrients and two it rinses off the starch that helps the sauce stick to it.

What the heck is el dente?
It basically means to the tooth. Culinary term – Don’t cook the hell out of it. Pasta should have some kind of texture. A lot of people cook it till its mushy, which is a huge no-no. Read the package and follow the directions.

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