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Vegetarians in Paradise
 Vegetarian Cooking with Zel

I love having kitchen fun with vegetables that are awesome on their own but lend themselves to some playful variations. Asparagus is a gorgeous spring vegetable that readily lends itself to innovative dishes and tastes great raw or cooked in a multitude of imaginative ways.

I could have made a delicious creamy asparagus soup or roasted them with bold Asian, Italian, Mexican, or Indian seasonings, but I was reaching for something uncommon, a unique way of enjoying this divine vegetable that stands apart.

Once cooked until tender, the asparagus can become anything--even a creamy sauce or a unique addition to a bowl of salad greens. But, still, I wanted this stunning bunch of asparagus to look different on the dinner plate and decided to turn it into a pasta sauce--not a creamy one, but a sauce that allowed the asparagus to remain recognizable. That meant pulsing it in the food processor only until it was chunky and then adding robust flavors that still allowed its bright green color and striking flavor to shine through.

It truly was love at first forkful, and I'm delighted to share this recipe. I hope you'll give it a try and let me know how you liked it. It's quite easy and uncomplicated and results in a delicious, hearty dinner entrée.

Asparagus Kalamata Sauce Over Pasta


Yield: 3 to 4 servings

    8 ounces (227g) quinoa and rice pasta or pasta of your choice.

    1 pound (454g) fresh asparagus, tough ends snapped off, cut into
    1-inch (2.5 cm) lengths
    Boiling water

    1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
    1 small purple onion, chopped
    4 garlic cloves, minced, divided
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    2 tablespoons water

    6 pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
    2 tablespoons well-drained capers
    1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt
    Freshly ground pepper to taste

    1/2 cup (120 ml) roasted pecans

  1. Cook the pasta according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  2. Put about 2 inches (5 cm) of water into a large deep skillet and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus and cook until just tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the asparagus to a food processor and discard the water from the skillet.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the red bell pepper, onion, and 3 of the garlic cloves. Put them into the now empty skillet along with the olive oil and water. Cook and stir until the vegetables are softened and the onions are transparent, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add 1 or more tablespoons of water as needed to cook the vegetables and prevent burning them.
  4. Turn off the heat and add the olives, capers, and the remaining minced garlic. Pulse the asparagus pieces in the food processor about 5 to 6 times until they are quite broken down but still chunky. Scrape down the sides of the work bowl and pulse 1 or 2 times more.
  5. Add the asparagus to the ingredients in the skillet, mix well, and season to taste with salt and pepper. The sauce will be quite thick.
  6. To serve, spoon portions of pasta onto dinner plates, top with hearty portions of the asparagus sauce, and garnish with the roasted pecans.

Click here for past cookingwithzel@home.comeonin recipes

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