Monday, June 3, 2013

Roasted Asparagus Pesto with Roasted Tomatoes

This pasta dish is great for summer nights when you want a simple meal that comes together in under 30 minutes. The pesto sauce is a great option for the pasta as it keeps it light and the vegetables help to fill you up. This asparagus pesto is a nice change to a regular pesto sauce that really packs an added punch.

Recipe yields 4 servings

1 lb bow tie pasta (or any shape you prefer)
1 lb asparagus
1 pint grape tomatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup fresh basil
2 tbsp grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees and arrange racks so there is one in the upper third of the oven and one in the bottom third. Add the pine nuts to a baking sheet. Spread them out so they are in one layer.

On a separate baking sheet. arrange the tomatoes and asparagus in an even layer. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of oil and a dash of salt. Place the vegetables on the top rack of the oven and the pine nuts on the bottom. Roast the vegetables for 20 minutes and toast the nuts for 10 minutes or until browned and fragrant.

While that is in the oven, pick off your basil leaves and clean under cold water to remove any dirt or grit.

Once your nuts are toasted, place in a food processor. Leave behind about a tablespoon of nuts to sprinkle over your pasta at the end. Blend until the nuts are only fine crumbs.

Add to the processor the basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, a dash of salt and 3 tablespoons of oil. Mix well until all ingredients are blended together. At this time, you can also bring a large stock pot of water to a boil to cook your pasta.

Once the vegetables are done (the asparagus will be browned at the tips and the tomatoes will have sunken) remove from the oven. Arrange the asparagus on a cutting board and cut off about 1 inch at the tip and reserve. Cut the remaining stems into about 1 inch pieces.

Add the pieces of the asparagus stems to the food processor with the rest of the sauce. Blend until you have a smooth paste. If necessary, add a tablespoon or so of the water from the pasta pot to the paste to give it a smoother consistency to help it easily spread on the pasta.

Once your pasta is cooked, drain it and add to a large serving bowl. Toss together the tomatoes, reserved asparagus tips, reserved pine nuts and the pesto sauce. Serve with extra Parmesan cheese on the side. Enjoy!

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