It’s asparagus season and I’m trying to cram as many pounds of it into my body as I can. It’s easy for me because I love asparagus. But I’m starting to notice that ever-so-slight look of dread on my family’s face as it appears on the table… yet again. I found this recipe is a back issue of Fine Cooking and made it for one of our weekday vegetarian dinners. It was the best meal we had all week and something I’ll definitely add to the regular rotation. Just be warned: the garlic is eaten fresh, so it’s pretty intense.
Tortellini with Asparagus, Peas, and Mint
In a large covered pot, bring well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Trim 1 lb. asparagus and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces, leaving the tips whole. In a large bowl, combine 2 pressed or minced medium cloves garlic, 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and a dash cayenne. Boil the asparagus and 1 cup shelled fresh peas (or frozen peas) until al dente, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from water with a slotted spoon or sieve. Cook tortellini until al dente. Reserving 1 cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta and toss with the garlic-oil mixture, asparagus, and peas. Stir in 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts, 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint (I didn’t have any), and 2 oz. softened goat cheese until the cheese melts into a sauce. Add cooking water as needed to moisten the pasta. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve.
The rest of our vegetarian quest for the week went very well. We enjoyed spanakopita made with puff pastry, served with a lemony tomato salad, as well as Brazilian black beans over brown rice with sautéed kale. Our two ‘meat nights’ included pizzas made with sweet potato, bacon, and provolone and another with fennel and shrimp. I also experimented with Malaysian beef rendang, a wonderfully flavourful, slow-cooked dish made with tamarind, coconut, and many spices.
I have to do this week’s menu planning today. I mentioned to Jay that we’ve completed our two week experiment and, much to my shock, he suggested we continue. I’m happy with that, though I’ll be checking out my friend Kelly Rossiter’s weekday vegetarian column for recipe inspiration.