For the past four months or so I’ve been coercing the husband into eating vegetarian at least one night per week. We’ve been pretty good about sticking to this plan, even though he doesn’t quite understand why we do it. Personally, I think it’s a good idea for three reasons:
1) It’s healthy.
2) It’s cheap.
3) It’s good for the environment.
I also think it forces me to try new things and get creative with our meals. I introduced tofu into the house by hiding it in some fried rice but I don’t think the husband really appreciated that one. I love eating vegan and/or vegetarian and find most protein “substitutes” to be delicious, but my better half has zero interest in tofu, tempeh, soy curls, or seitan. So I’m typically stuck with fruits, vegetables, dairy, and grains on vegetarian night. Sigh.
That brings me back to last night’s dinner: Spring Asparagus Pasta Marinara.
Yum! I found this to be perfectly filling; enough to satisfy my appetite, but not so heavy that I felt overly full.
I blanched one bunch of asparagus in boiling water until tender-crisp, then removed it to a cutting board and chopped it. I used the same pot of water to cook my whole wheat pasta, then drained it reserved about a cup of the (green) cooking liquid. I cranked the heat to high and added some chopped onions and garlic to the pot with a splash of oil until the whole mess was golden brown. I then de-glazed the pan with red wine, brought it to a boil, reduced it to a simmer, and added marinara sauce (I used Gina’s version over at SkinnyTaste, who inspired this recipe, but feel free to use the store-bought kind if you have some) and a little balsamic vinegar. I returned the asparagus and pasta to the pot, gave it a stir, and added a little of the cooking liquid back into the pot to make sure the sauce coated every little morsel. I folded in some freshly grated Parmesan cheese to really send it over the top.
Here’s the recipe:
Makes: 4 servings
- 8 oz whole wheat pasta (I used baby shells, but you could try penne or maybe bowtie)
- 1 bunch asparagus, tough ends trimmed
- 1 half onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 3 Tbsp. red wine
- 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- Boil 6 cups of water in a large pot. Add the asparagus and cook for 2-3 minutes until it is tender-crisp (it will be bright green and tender but not limp)
- Remove asparagus from pot but reserve the water. Add your pasta to the water and cook according to package directions, or until al dente.
- Meanwhile, dice your onion, mince your garlic, and chop your cooked asparagus.
- Once cooked, drain your pasta and set aside. Reserve about a cup of cooking liquid.
- Add the oil, onion, and garlic to your pot and cook on medium-high until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
- Add the red wine to de-glaze the pan. Let the wine come to a boil and use a wooden spoon to scrape any good brown bits from the bottom of your pan. Reduce the heat to simmer and add your marinara sauce and balsamic vinegar. Stir to combine.
- Return the cooked pasta and chopped cooked asparagus to the pan. Add a little cooking liquid if the mixture is too thick, and stir in your Parmesan cheese. Adjust salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve topped with additional Parmesan cheese.
Nutrition (per serving):
269 calories, 5 g. fat, 13 g. protein, 42 g. carbs, 4 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 7
What are your favorite vegan or vegetarian dishes? How do you avoid the beans-and-rice rut?