Roasted Asparagus and Sunflower Seeds with Spinach-Walnut Pesto

Like I mentioned the other day, Mike is on Spring break. Lucky for me, I was able to take off time to spend with him. Unlucky for me, so far his break has consisted of wearing the same sweatpants and sweatshirt for the past three days, lying on the couch, watching Law and Order: SVU reruns, watching an entire day’s worth of Opening Day baseball games while checking up on his two fantasy baseball leagues, and napping. Exciting, right? [Read more…]

Pea, Asparagus, & Spring Herb Pasta (gluten free)

So I feel like I am in a different world, state, or even city the past two days. It has been 55 in Chicago. In January. Did you hear me?!?!?! 55 IN JANUARY! What in the world?

I don’t want to be one of those people who always talks about the weather, even though I have kind of done that the last three posts. I know that talking about weather is the number one mistake in small talk and also means you have nothing real to say. But this is so weird!

This weird weather has me ready for Spring! I was outside today with my nieces and nephews without a jacket in my standard spring-ish apparel; jeans, t-shirt, and clogs. It felt so good.

I recalled a recipe I had bookmarked with a scrap of paper in my new all-time favorite cookbook, Keys to The Kitchen by Aida Mollenkampfor a spring-inspired pasta. When reading through the ingredients, I get a little weary of the list of acceptable spring herbs because, for a very long time, the only fresh herb I used was basil. I know I was missing so much. But truth be told, a long time ago I had a bad experience with fresh herbs… well I guess a chive is kind of an herb…

My mom tried to get me to like chives and asked me to take a whiff of the fresh smell chopped chives gave off. Me being the dummy I was, took a deep inhale and ended up with a chive or two up my nose!

My mom yelled at me, “I told you to smell not inhale them!”

Now it is funny and every single time I read chives in a recipe or even think of herbs, I remember that incident and smile, then keep my distance. Herbs are awesome and not to be trifled with.

This recipe allows you to use any fresh Spring herbs you like and toss in some peas, asparagus, and some cheese and call it a day ALL IN ONE POT!!! Well, aside from the pot you cooked the pasta in, so two pots!

So my weird weather friends, let’s enjoy this “heat wave” together and look forward to Spring!

Pea, Asparagus, & Spring Herb Pasta (gluten free)
Prep time

Cook time

Total time


Recipe type: Entree/ Pasta
Serves: 6-8

  • 1 Pound Brown Rice Penne (or any other regular tubular pasta if you do not have a gluten free diet)
  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Shallots, quartered and then thinly sliced
  • Kosher Salt and Black Pepper
  • 1 Pound Asparagus, trimmed and cut into inch long pieces
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 Cup Frozen English Peas
  • ⅔ Cup Grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for garnish
  • 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Zest
  • 1 Cup Roughly Chopped Fresh Herbs, such as basil, chervil, chives, Italian parsley, mint, or tarragon
  • ¾ Cup Toasted Pine Nuts

  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat, add pasta, cook for about seven minutes until tender.
  2. In the meantime, heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. After two minutes, add the shallots and sauté for three minutes.
  3. Add the asparagus and garlic to the skillet. Cook until knife tender, about three minutes. Stir in peas and cook for two minutes. Season with a heavy pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. By this time the pasta should be done. Add the pasta using a small strainer right from the boiling water into the skillet, reserving the pasta water. Add a cup of the pasta water and cook for two to three minutes until sauce starts to coat pasta. Remove from heat.
  5. Add butter and cheese, mix. Add more pasta water if needed to keep pasta sauce loose.
  6. Stir in lemon juice, lemon zest, herbs, and pine nuts. Stir to coat. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve with some more freshly ground black pepper and grated cheese. Pasta lasts in an air-tight container in the refrigerator three to four days.

(I swear to God if it snows tomorrow I am going to freak the flip out!)

Cream of Asparagus Soup

It is Spring!!! Well, actually, outside my window right now, it is gloomy and rainy, but at least it is warm. I guess.

In my efforts to be more active before summer is totally upon us, I have started going on three mile walks at least three times a week. And since I am doing this, you know what that means, Mike is now dragged into it too!
It’s like Samuel L. Jackson said in Pulp Fiction, “…my girlfriend’s a vegetarian—which, pretty much makes me a vegetarian.”
Poor Mike, the things I drag him into.
Actually, I take that back. I don’t feel bad for him at all. I can honestly say, without an air of bragging, that his life is ten times better with me in it. Plus, when I make him take part in these things, all he does is complain, which makes my life waaaay more awesome.

The last long walk he accompanied me on, he complained the whole time about spring weather.
“This weather is the worst. It looks nice, but it is so cold. When we go on these long walks, I get bundled up because it’s kind of chilly. Then halfway through the walk, I am boiling hot, but my ears are freezing cold.”
I just listen and keep walking. Deep down I know he is just trying to annoy me so I don’t make him come with me on these walks.
“You know another thing I hate about spring….”
I then go to my happy place thinking about all the great things I love about spring; bright colors, sleeping during a rainstorm, fresh berries, open windows, the smell of fresh cut grass, and cheap fresh asparagus prices.
By the time we get home I have successfully ignored all Mike’s complaints and decided to torture him even further by whipping up a batch of fresh cream of asparagus soup.
Ingredients (Serves 6)
3 Tablespoons Butter
1 Large Shallot, finely chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, grated
18-20 Green Asparagus Spears (about one lb.), ends trimmed and cut into inch long pieces
1 Teaspoon Salt
½ Teaspoon Pepper
½ Teaspoon Dried Oregano
3 Cups Low Sodium Vegetable Stock
2 Cups Milk (I used 2%, but you can also substitute 1% or even skim or whole milk. If you want to make this soup vegan friendly, you can substitute almond milk.)
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Fresh Tarragon, chopped
Melt butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add chopped shallot and garlic. Cook until shallot becomes slightly translucent and garlic becomes fragrant, about three minutes.
Add trimmed and cut pieces of fresh asparagus to the pot. Sautee the asparagus for about five minutes, until slightly tender. Season asparagus with salt, pepper, and dried oregano. Sautee for an additional minute.

Add vegetable stock and milk to the pot. Adjust heat to medium/high and bring the pot to a simmer. Simmer soup for twenty minutes.
After twenty minutes, reduce heat to low. Add the lemon juice and tarragon to the soup. If you have an immersion blender, use the immersion blender to puree the soup until creamy and smooth.
 If you do not have an immersion blender, let the soup completely cool and puree in a blender in batches until the entire soup is smooth and creamy. Then, return the pureed soup to the pot and bring back up to heat before serving.

Serve soup with either some cheese, croutons, or reserved roasted pieces of asparagus on top. Soup will last a week stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Or freeze for later use.
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