25 April 2011

Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Penne Salad with Ricotta

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!

I am highlighting this tasty pasta salad for 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.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. It's gray, cold and raining--and that's the forecast for most of the week. Like you, however, I'm thinking salads! This sounds like a winner!


  2. A droolworthy combination!



  3. Yes! I so want to have a picnic and pretend it's a sun-kissed summer day! This salad sounds delicious!

  4. How fabulous. I would much rather be at an Easter Monday picnic than at work right now!

  5. The Bahamaians also celebrate Easter Monday. What a lovely vegetarian dish for a picnic. Happy Easter Monday Val.

  6. It does look like a pretty wonderful way to pass the day. It's even sunny and spring like here in Halifax! Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

  7. What a gorgeous dish! I could eat that up right now!

  8. Delightful sounding salad. I hope we have some al fresco dining weather soon but this would be worth making even if it has to be eaten indoors.

  9. Very tasty looking. I wish we had Easter Monday in the US. I would love to be picknicking right now. We just started getting spring weather!

  10. yay for easter monday because this dish looks delicious! :)

  11. This look amazing!

    I've mentioned you in my list of awesome salads for this summer


  12. I love the layered flavors in your pasta. It is at once simple and sophisticatd and demands to be tried. The roast vegetables set it apart from other salads of its kind. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  13. Val, We're finally getting 'some' sunny days down here, for which I'm so thankful . . . but gray skies or no, this lovely salad would certainly bring sunshine.

    Thanks so much for sharing. (Love your photo too, it looks so appetizing on your pretty blue and white plates.) xo

  14. Very nice combination of ingredients for this pasta. I roast both asparagus and tomatoes, but have never had the two together. I think the Pasquetta tradition is a nice one and I certainly miss it.

  15. I love the balance of sweet and salty in this beautiful pasta dish. Sounds so delicious and utterly satisfying, Val.

  16. I had never heard of Pasquetta before! Thanks for enlightening me! And this beautiful salad sounds like a perfect way to celebrate such a day. Your minor substitutions suit me just fine and I know what you mean about ping pong ball tomatoes!

  17. I am loving this salad... it looks healthy and so delicious.

  18. Goat cheese or ricotta? Interesting decision point ...

    Just saw roasted asparagus with ricotta one a Bobby Flay quesadilla. Very cool combo.


  19. the flavors must be fantastic with the roasting of the tomatoes and asparagus!

  20. As far as I'm concerned, this is the perfect salad! Perfectly seasoned and I do like the idea of ricotta instead of goat cheese...but then, I'm more apt to have ricotta in the fridge!

  21. It's salad season here. A slow start to the weather improvements but we're getting there - and I've seen some asparagus on the market this week. Perfect.

  22. I love ricotta, this is a beautiful dish!

  23. Spring is here and thisis a perfect plate.

  24. I made this for dinner tonight. I now have two (college age) children who will do anything for me.

  25. So glad you enjoyed it Claudia. It has many flavour possibilies and shows how we can take a recipe and make it out own.

  26. I like that there are greens in this pasta salad. Don't see that too often. Sounds nice and light!

  27. After reading everyone's comments and seeing how delicious this looks in your photo. I do believe I will just have to bookmark this and make it for my family this weekend. So glad I stumbled across your blog!


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