I loved(!) the pesto sauce. The salad as a whole turned out pretty well. Next time I might use a different shape of pasta (the asparagus spears and penne ended up looking too much alike which made for confusion in your mouth) and add some roasted red peppers for more flavor.
Creamy Pesto Sauce
(You can prepare before the pasta or while it’s cooking.)
1 large bunch of basil (about 3 cups, loosely packed)
2-3 large cloves garlic
6 Tbsp raw pine nuts, walnuts, or almonds (depending on how much money you want to spend)
1 tsp salt, or to taste
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional—some people don’t like the flavor)
Place all ingredients except the olive oil and nutritional yeast into a food processor. Process to a finely ground consistency. Add olive oil and process again, until smooth and creamy. If desired, add nutritional yeast and process again until creamy
Asparagus-Tomato Pasta Salad
2 pounds asparagus
1 pound whole wheat or gluten-free spiral pasta
2 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
1 small can black olives
Salt and pepper, to taste
Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add the asparagus spears. Cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. (This is important! Do not overcook the asparagus like I did because then they get icky and stringy.) Drain asparagus spears in a colander. Rinse with cool water.
Meanwhile, bring a separate large pot of water to a boil. Add salt, if needed, and add pasta. Cook until the pasta is al dente, according to package instructions. Put into a large bowl.
Cut the asparagus spears into 1- to 2-inch-long pieces. Chop tomatoes into bite-size chunks.
Toss the pasta, asparagus pieces, tomatoes, and olives with the pesto, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate until ready to serve.
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