Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring Asparagus and Penne Salad (with Goat Cheese)

Spring has come early this year in St. Louis. As the guy at Home Depot said to us Sunday, "It came on February 29." That means I'm already planting flowers, busting out my spring wardrobe and yearning for fresh, crisp and cool spring recipes. I found the inspiration for this one in Cooking Light's May 2011 issue. Believe me; you will want to try it! In the words of Rachel Zoe, "I die." (If you don't know Rachel, just know that she uses that phrase when something is really, really great). It's super simple to make--so it doesn't take much time away from your outdoor activities--and it'll work for Meatless Mondays too. Unless you're Mr. Patton...then you can add some grilled chicken.

Seriously, this might very well be the most satisfying salad I've ever had. Each bite was an absolute delight, portraying its own tantalizing flavor. Delicious. Since it's got a full serving of pasta, this isn't a weenie salad either. It's a dinner salad: made to be a full meal. It utilizes one of the year's earliest veggies--asparagus--and one of my all time favorite cheeses--goat cheese. The goat cheese sits atop the salad in a chunk, becoming softer and creamier as you eat. When it so pleases you, add a tiny bit to a forkful of the greens and pasta. It's a savory, cool treat for your taste buds. I also included some multi-color, mini heirloom tomatoes from Trader Joes that Mr. Patton surprised me with--great selection, babe! If you can get them for your recipe, definitely do; they add a unique twist because each one is different. If not, cherry tomatoes will work just fine. Pumped up yet? Here you go!

Roasted Asparagus and Penne Salad (with Goat Cheese)
Serves 2.
  • 2 cups whole wheat penne noodles
  • 1 small bunch (1 pound) asparagus, cut in half with tough ends trimmed off
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes (preferably mini heirlooms), cut in half
  • 4 big handfuls of spring mix
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Recipe for Lemony Vinaigrette (below)

Bring water to a boil and add penne. Cook until al dente, drain and allow to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, sauté asparagus and onion in a drizzle of olive oil.
Prepare dressing.
When asparagus is bright green and starting to brown, remove from heat.
In a large bowl, toss lettuce, pasta, asparagus and onion, tomatoes and dressing.
Divide onto two large plates and serve with a chunk of goat cheese on top.

Lemony Dill Dressing
Serves 2.

Whisk the following ingredients in a small bowl (or shake in a jar):
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons water
  • 2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • A dash of Kosher salt
  • 2 pinches crushed red pepper
  • Several grinds of fresh ground pepper
  • A couple shakes of garlic powder
  • A liberal amount of dill (about 1/4 teaspoon)

I'll be eating it again tomorrow for lunch :) And it will probably make the dinner menu again real soon.

Let me know what you think!