Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Penne Salad with Ricotta
Pasquetta, Easter Monday, is a holiday in Italy, and is traditionally an occasion for those who live in the cities to head out into the countryside and enjoy a picnic. With Easter coming late this year the prospect is even more inviting! I have one foot firmly planted in Spring but my mind, and kitchen, have already moved over to summer. Summer means plenty of salads and fresh plucked garden ingredients. Our local farmers market opened this weekend but with a late Spring I didn't expect to be enjoying lightly sauteed fiddleheads, morels or the pop of a fresh garden pea just yet. Without these longed for ingredients salads are looking a little wilted and tired so far this season.
To the rescue comes an inspiration from Cooking Light magazine where fresh local asparagus, roasted tomatoes and baby spinach become the star. The original recipe uses arugula and goat cheese but around here I use what I have on hand if at all possible. I love it when I am able to spend a leisurely afternoon at home with very little effort in the kitchen to get a light supper on the table. The bonus...no need to head to the grocery store either. This recipe would be perfect for a picnic on a sun dappled Spring day!
Meatless Mondays, one day a week that I do without my beloved meat to do my part in reducing the carbon imprint on the planet and raise awareness.
I am sending this dish over to Ruth for Presto Pasta Nights . Ruth at Once Upon a Feast just celebrated their 5th year anniversary. Can you believe it Ruth!!! You will always find a myriad of delicious dishes from lasagna to Pho on Ruth's Presto Pasta Night site. This week the event is being hosted by Theresa of Foodhunters Guide. So get your healthy carbs on!!!
Not only does roasting concentrate and caramelize the intense flavour of the cherry tomatoes in this recipe, but it also gives them a meatier, more robust texture. It will be my favourite method for the next few months for those less-than-appetizing store-bought tomatoes available this time of the year that you would otherwise use as ping pong balls. They have intense flavour after roasting that will add a whole new dimension of flavour to your pasta dishes! They will remind you of lost sun-kissed summer days, puttering in the garden and venturing to your local farmers market. This salad was half gone before I even remembered to take a photo:D
**Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Penne Salad with Ricotta**
2 cups uncooked penne or mostaccioli (tube-shaped pasta)
12 asparagus spears
12 cherry tomatoes or 1 package tiny tims
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon minced shallots
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
2 cups baby spinach or arugula
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese or fresh ricotta
1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain and set aside.
3. Place asparagus and tomatoes on a jelly-roll pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Toss gently to coat; arrange asparagus and tomato mixture in a single layer. Bake at 400° for 6 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender. Remove asparagus from pan. Place pan back in oven, and bake tomatoes an additional 4 minutes. Remove tomatoes from pan; let asparagus and tomatoes stand 10 minutes. Cut asparagus into 1-inch lengths; halve tomatoes.
4. Combine shallots and the next 4 ingredients (through honey) in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add remaining 3 tablespoons oil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Set dressing aside.
5. Place pasta, asparagus, tomato, olives, dressing and ricotta or goat cheese in a large bowl; mix well. Add spinach or arugula and toss.
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