Tag Archives: asparagus

Asparagus and Grape Tomato Side

This is so simple, I hesitate to call it a recipe!

I like to keep things fresh. Not fresh like crispy veggies, but fresh as in not cooking the same things over and over again. This is an unexpected side dish that is super simple, not starchy, adds color to any plate, healthy, and goes with anything (unless your main dish involves asparagus and grape tomatoes).

Let’s get started. Halve some ripe grape tomatoes, snap off the hard ends of some medium to small diameter asparagus, then toss both in a little EVOO. Place the brilliant red and green mixture in a large skillet over medium heat.

Put a couple of tablespoons of salted butter in a cup. Take a clove or two of garlic and run it through your garlic press on top of the butter. You do have a garlic press, don’t you? Zap the butter-garlic mixture in the microwave until the butter is melted and the garlic is warmed.

Saute the asparagus and tomatoes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes become blistered and the asparagus is done. How do you know when the asparagus is done? … when no one is looking, take a bite out of the end of one of your stalks (you can put that one on your plate).

When ready, transfer to your plates, spoon a little of the butter-garlic sauce over the veggies and top with a little fresh grated Parmesan.

Yes, it’s that simple!

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Fusilli with Roasted Asparagus/Piquillo Peppers

When tasty and easy-to-make intersect, it’s a win-win. This is a simple recipe with simple ingredients that makes a satisfying main dish without being heavy. Okay, enough hyperbole Poppy, let’s get to it.


Ingredients: 

  • 3/4 pound of Fusilli pasta (feeds 3-4)
  • bunch of asparagus
  • roasted piquillo peppers (more about this later)
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • Coarse ground black pepper to taste (lots)
  • 1 tbsp. sea salt

Preheat your oven to 425° in preparation for roasting the asparagus. When choosing asparagus for roasting, I look for shoots that are about the diameter of my little finger. If it’s much thinner, lower the temperature or reduce the roasting time. If it’s much thicker, don’t buy it and plan something else for dinner.

Snap off the tough ends and cut the asparagus into 1 inch sections, leaving the tips longer. Toss in a little EVOO and spread on a foil lined baking sheet. Roast for 25 minutes.

While the asparagus is roasting, start your water boiling for the pasta, add the salt to the water. You should also have enough time while the roasting is happening to grate your cheese, cut the stick of butter into 8 or so smaller chunks (chunks is a very technical term). I struggle with timing everything, so to keep it simple, I usually wait until the asparagus is done roasting before adding the pasta to the boiling water.

Roasted piquillo peppers. I love these guys … they are one of Poppy’s “secret ingredients.” I have no idea where you might find them fresh, so I’m quite content to buy them canned. This is the variety I use.

For this recipe, I cut three of the peppers into 1/2″ squares. There is so much to like about these peppers. They are not hot, but sweet. The roasting or grilling adds a delightful smoky flavor to their sweetness. I use them in salads, antipasto, add them to fresh corn, and of course, pasta. Their smokey sweetness contrasts nicely to strong flavors like feta cheese or bacon, plus they add a great pop of red to any dish. Okay, back to the recipe at hand.

After the pasta has cooked (about 9 minutes), drain the pasta, but reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Set the pasta aside and return the remaining pasta water back to the stove-top on medium heat. Stir in the butter a few chunks at a time, until it has blended with the pasta water. Add one cup of the Parmesan cheese, bit by bit, stirring constantly until the mixture is well blended. If you are going to splurge on anything for this recipe, treat yourself to a high quality, well aged wedge of Parmesan and hand grate it. You will tell the difference.

Add the pasta back to the mixture along with the roasted asparagus and piquillo peppers. Stir and simmer for a minute before serving. Top with the remaining cheese, a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water-butter-cheese mixture and a very generous grind of coarse black pepper.

Enjoy!

I think this would also be good with roasted tomatoes instead of the asparagus and peppers. It’s on my list of things to try.

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Roasted Asparagus-Potato-White Cheddar Soup

MrsG-Soup

“I’m here to apply for that soup tester job”

I thought I would be clever and use the fading azaleas as a backdrop for this soup that features another plant associated with spring, asparagus … but I got photo bombed by “Mrs. G”, the feral cat who has adopted us. I set everything up, pressed the button on my phone then BAM, up pops up Mrs. G … photo bombed by a cat! Why “Mrs. G” you ask, well we got tired of calling her, “that grey cat”. She is a sweet little thing for a feral cat and a fierce hunter. I’ve lost track of the number of dead mice and moles that have been deposited on our front door mat. OK, enough talk of dead rodents, let’s talk about something much better … potato soup with roasted asparagus and sharp white cheddar cheese.

I’m a bit of a slow learner but I’ve figured out over the years how to make my dishes taste good. Now I’m on to the next phase, learning how to make things taste good and be healthy at the same time (not easy for me). Normally I would add cream or at least half-in-half to add some brightness and creaminess to this soup, but in a nod towards fewer calories and a little weight loss for yours truly, I skipped the cream this time.

I started roasting the asparagus first, so I could be peeling and dicing the potatoes while the asparagus was in the oven. After snapping off the hard ends, I coated the asparagus with EVOO and placed it on a foil lined cookie sheet, and popped it into the oven that had been preheated to 385°. I let that cook for about 15 minutes (set on convection, your mileage may vary), then flipped the asparagus over and cooked for another 10-15 minutes (you really can’t mess this up). While the asparagus was cooking, I peeled 6 medium sized Yukon Gold potatoes and plopped them into 48 ozs. of low sodium chicken broth and commenced cooking. If you’re feeling ambitious you can create your own chicken broth, but I’m not that ambitious. While all of that is happening I diced 3/4’s of a good sized sweet onion and started sautéing that in a little EVOO. Once the onion turned translucent I added 4 cloves of garlic that had been run through my garlic press.

 

When your culinary planets have aligned, the potatoes are tender, the onion-garlic mix is ready and the asparagus has finished roasting, it’s time to assemble all the ingredients.

Add the onion-garlic mixture to the potato-broth mixture then in batches puree 3/4’s of the soup in a blender. I like a little “chunkiness” to my potato soups, so I don’t puree the whole thing. I’ve got to add my usual warning here … don’t fill up the blender more than halfway and keep you hand on top of the blender to avoid a hot-soup explosion. 

Add 4 ozs. of grated sharp white cheddar, a tsp. of coarse ground black pepper, 4 dashes of Frank’s hot sauce, a scant tsp. of Cajun seasoning, then simmer an additional 10 minutes on low heat (covered) to let all the flavors have a chance to get acquainted. Cut up the asparagus in 1″ slices, adding half to the soup, reserving the other half for topping.

Very tasty … and at least semi-healthy!


Ingredients: 

  • 48 ozs. of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 4 ozs. of grated sharp white cheddar ( yellow will work too)
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 3/4’s of a large sweet onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 dashes of Frank’s hot sauce
  • 1 scant tsp. Cajun seasoning
  • coarse ground black pepper to taste

IMG_2390

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