I’m always preaching about how simple dishes are usually my favorites, and this is certainly one of the dishes that proves my point. Simple, fresh, and totally in-season ingredients are cooked quickly, then stirred together and served. That’s a recipe for perfection in my book.
I’m making an effort to reduce the amount of meat we eat as a family and replacing it with more nutrient dense ingredients. I used asparagus because it’s in season, which means you can usually find it on sale, and it’s at peak flavor. When you cook a dish this simple it’s a good idea to use the most flavorful ingredients you can find and let each one shine through. I think the crunch of lightly roasted asparagus compliments the pasta’s chewiness really well. The biggest flavor in this dish is the balsamic vinegar sauce – it has a sweetly bitter taste but there’s lots of richness from the butter to keep things rounded out. My sweet husband is no friend to vegetarian meals, and is not what you’d call a light eater. I always use his reaction as a guide to judge the success of meals like this. (I think it goes without saying that I loved this one – me and asparagus are like peas and carrots, and my love for anything made with balsamic vinegar has never been a secret.) In this case I got two enthusiastic thumbs up from him, and to my surprise there were plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day. Which he also ate, and he’s also no friend to leftovers either.
This meal took me about 15 minutes from start to finish to make, and that’s without doing any prep work ahead of time. The secret to getting in and out of the kitchen in a hurry is to gather everything you need before you begin. I know you’ve seen Rachel Ray run around her TV kitchen, balancing all her ingredients in her arms. I do the same thing, and also grab my measuring cups, spoons, bowls, knives, spatulas…anything I think I’ll need and pile it up on the counter. I go ahead and put the colander in the sink for draining and the serving bowl next to it. Everything is accounted for. Then when I go to work there’s no need to pause to try to find something, which invariably leads to a burning smell that lingers for quite some time. It really pays off to take a minute to read through the recipe and gather supplies before diving in.
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