So, to try and make our home meals more healthy and economical, I've been trying meatless meals at least once a week. I use beans and hearty vegetables as the main attractions. Honestly, Graham hasn't even noticed or complained.. probably because most of the meals are delicious.
Anyways, Cooks Illustrated is my favorite website and they make the best cookbooks. I was looking through my "New Best Recipe" cookbook the other week, and saw a recipe for an asparagus pasta. I thought it sounded delicious, so I decided to try it.
Verdict: absolutely fabulous. The reduced Balsamic vinegar dripped over the top made it perfect! Also, I didn't have fresh basil, so I just used some dried basil (in small amounts), and it still tasted awesome. Graham took TWO huge helpings of the pasta. Oh, and feel free to substitute Parmesan for the Pecorino cheese. :)
So, I'm posting this recipe with the hope some of you may try it and revel in your vegetarian, almost vegan, dinner!
Campanelli with Asparagus, Basil, and Balsamic Glaze
Serves 4 to 6 as a main dish.
Campanelli is a frilly trumpet-shaped pasta. If you cannot find it, fusilli works well. Take care not to overreduce the vinegar, or it will become bitter.
1 tablespoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 pound campanelli
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound asparagus , bottom 1 inch trimmed and discarded, spears halved lengthwise if larger than 1/2-inch in diameter and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 medium red onion , halved and sliced 1/8-inch thick (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup shaved Pecorino Romano
1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in stockpot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta, stir to separate, and cook until al dente. Drain and return to pot.
2. Just before putting pasta in boiling water, bring balsamic vinegar to boil in 8-inch skillet over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium and simmer slowly until syrupy and reduced to 1/4 cup, 15 to 20 minutes.
3. While pasta is cooking and balsamic is reducing, heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until beginning to smoke. Add asparagus, onion, black pepper, pepper flakes, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir to combine; cook, without stirring, until asparagus begins to brown, about 1 minute, then stir and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is tender-crisp, about 4 minutes longer. Add asparagus mixture, basil, lemon juice, 1/2 cup Pecorino, and remaining 3 tablespoons oil to pasta in stockpot; toss to combine. Serve immediately, drizzling 1 to 2 teaspoons balsamic glaze over individual servings and passing remaining 1/2 cup Pecorino separately.
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