Monday, February 23, 2009

Pasta Salad with Asparagus, Zucchini and Peas

I was on the phone with my sister having our weekly food conversation. She was describing a cashew chicken and pasta salad recipe she wasn't sure whether or not she had sent me (she had). As I was looking at the recipe, I realized I had the makings of something similar close at hand, even (and especially) the cashews. I had already planned a pasta dish - I had fresh asparagus and zucchini on hand, along with some Italian sausage in the freezer that I was going to use for a pasta sauce. But a Chinese-inspired salad seemed much more refreshing.

I didn't have snow peas, so I went to Jewel. The fresh snow peas did not look good and they didn't have any frozen (which my sister said worked in a pinch of there weren't fresh). They did have frozen sugar snap peas so I bought a bag of those. I had some blood oranges on hand (my purchase of which having been inspired by misreall's comments on this post.)

I also had a bunch of fresh dandelion greens Treasure Island had on sale. They looked so beautiful I had to bring them home with me even though I wasn't sure how I was going to use them. I decided to cook them up the same way I cook fresh spinach - I rinsed them and then placed them in a hot skillet so they could steam in their rinse liquid. I didn't add any other liquid. It works like a charm every time.

This was pretty easy to put together, and it was quite good. Even though it feels like we're still in the throes of deep winter, there are teensy weensy signs of spring. This is hearty enough for winter, but hints of what's coming just around the bend.

The irony of this dish, though, is that I completely forgot to add the cashews. I don't think it suffered without them, but I will remember to add them next time. Oh, and maybe the chicken as well.
Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes


12-oz. package whole wheat spaghetti or linguine
2 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 shallots, diced
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2" pieces
3 small zucchini, cut into 1-1/2" chunks, blanched then sliced
1 bunch dandelion greens
10 oz. fresh sugar snap peas, or 1 10-oz. package frozen
2 Tbsp toasted Sesame seeds
1 blood orange, supremed


3-4 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp sherry

Cook pasta according to pacakage directions. Drain and place in large bowl. Add dressing and toss well.

Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add shallots and cook until translucent and just beginning to caramelize, about 7 minutes. Add asparagus (and snap peas if fresh) and cook until just tender, 3-5 minutes. Add zucchini (and snap peas if frozen) and cook until just heated through. Add to pasta and place skillet back on the stovetop over medium heat for the dandelion greens.

Rinse dandelion greens and then chop into pieces. Add to skillet and cook until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Add to pasta.

Toss all of the vegetables with the pasta until well mixed. Adjust oil, vinegar, or soy sauce to taste. Add sesame seeds and mix again.

Serve garnished with blood orange segments.

Created 2/15/09

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