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Farro Linguine with Asparagus and Lemon-Pepper Sauce

This recipe is a combination of two classic Italian pasta dishes: aglio e olio (garlic and oil) and asparagus with lemon-pepper sauce. (Both individual recipes, by the way, can be found in my pasta edition of the Vegetarian Italian: Traditions ebook series.)

One night after work, I was contemplating dinner. I wanted to do something a little different, but I wanted to keep it easy, and not stray too far from familiarity (I was tired and irritated from work, so simplicity and comforting were my top criteria).

Pasta is always easy, always comforting, and I had just happened to buy a bunch of pencil-thin asparagus. I also had lemons…and so I came up with this. Two savory Italian classics in one delicious dish, and the combo is not any more work than just one recipe alone.

Farro is an ancient Italian grain that is related to spelt and emmer, but is not actually spelt, as some believe. It’s commonly used in Italy, but is becoming more available in the U.S. Farro pasta is nutty, nutritious, low in calories, and is often well tolerated by people with gluten sensitivity (although those with Celiac disease should avoid it). Farro pasta can be found in Italian groceries, as well as gourmet shops. And, of course, online. Try it—I think you’ll find it an addicting alternative to whole wheat pasta.

Enjoy.

Farro Linguine with Asparagus and Lemon-Pepper Sauce

1 pound asparagus
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ lb. farro linguine (or other long pasta)
2 large garlic cloves, sliced

½ teaspoon paprika
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Zest from 1 small lemon

Grated parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Snap or cut off the woody bottom stems of the asparagus and discard. Place the asparagus on a platter, drizzle with half the oil, sprinkle with half the salt, and gently toss. Try to keep the asparagus all facing the same direction (this will make it easier to handle).Place the asparagus on a baking sheet lined with foil and roast until tender and lightly browned (the time will vary depending on the thickness of the asparagus, but anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes). Remove them from oven and chop them into bite-size pieces.Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and remaining salt and bring it to a boil, stirring often, until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain. Transfer the pasta to a serving platter. Add the chopped asparagus.Pour the remaining olive oil in a small pan with the garlic. Heat until the garlic is fragrant and just starts to color, about 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle in the paprika, swirl it, then immediately pour it over the pasta. Season with more salt and grind on as much black pepper as you like.Sprinkle the lemon zest over it. Top with the grated parmesan and drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil. Serve.

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Tomato Tagliolini with Fresh Peas, Asparagus & Squash Blossoms

The fun thing about pasta is that it comes in many shapes, sizes, and flavors. You can play around with it almost endlessly. When I saw this particular pasta, I was drawn by its beautiful red color, which comes from tomatoes. Once it’s cooked, it retains a soft reddish color and a mild tomato flavor. Continue reading


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Asparagus-Cheddar Open-Faced Sandwiches

Asparagus and cheese go beautifully together, and in this recipe I pair asparagus with cheddar for an open-faced sandwich.

The nice thing about open-faced sandwiches is that if you’re using fresh, flavorful ingredients—in this case, asparagus and shiitake mushrooms—their flavors won’t be crowded out or buried by all the bread. Yet you can still have the easy, quick convenience of a sandwich. It’s also easier on the carb intake. But it still satisfies your hunger.

Give it a try when you want a quick but delicious meal. Enjoy!

Asparagus-Cheddar Open-Faced Sandwiches

½ lb. asparagus
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
2 slices whole grain bread
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Garnish: 1 or 2 tablespoon finely diced red bell pepper

Toss the asparagus with 2 tablespoons oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet and broil, turning over once, until browned on both sides, about 12 to 18 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus.Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a small skillet. Add mushrooms, sprinkle with salt,  and sauté about 3 or 4 minutes, or until nicely browned.Toast the bread until medium brown. On each slice, place half the asparagus, half the mushrooms, and top with half the cheese. Place I toaster oven or oven or broiler until the cheese melts.Sprinkle with red pepper, if using. Serve hot.

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