Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Roasted Asparagus and Sun Dried Tomato

This is an oldie but a goodie. An oldie in our house because it's our 'always favorite' standby. I haven't ever posted it though, so it will be new to you!

It features roasted asparagus, sundried tomatoes and vegan sausage, all tossed with pasta and terribly delicious!!

Technically this one is a hybrid of the original concoction. I got frisky last night and decided to switch it up. The end result? We both decided we kind of like it this way better. Either way, you will see that I put the 'old' ingredients in parentheses where applicable. I encourage you to try it both ways and see which you like better!

Bunch asparagus
1 jar sun dried tomatoes (SDT) (Note: get the julienned version and save yourself some trouble)
Oil for cooking - I use the oil in the jar of SDT because it works and I don't have to waste it
2 leeks, just the white part cut down the middle and chopped; so you have half circles (in the original version I used a sweet white onion, chopped)
3 cloves garlic
1 package Tofutti sun dried tomato italian 'sausage', sliced into rounds (really high in protein!)
Linguini pasta (this version is made with linguini. In the original version I used farfalle, the big kind. Last night we decided that we kind of like it with the linguini, but either way is good!)
Salt and pepper to taste
About 1/2 cup fresh basil, julienned (this will go in your dish and on top and in my mind there is no such thing as too much fresh basil!)

Preheat your oven to 375 and put a pot of salted water on the stove to boil. Once boiling, add your pasta and cook until al dente, or however you like your pasta. The oven is for your asparagus (see below).

Wash the asparagus and cut the bottom 2 (or so) inches off and throw away. Cut the rest of it on the diagonal. I usually get two or three cuts from each piece, or three or four 'spears' from each long piece It kind of depends on your asparagus. A good rule of thumb: you want your pieces to be substantial so when in doubt, cut bigger. Once cut, arrange on a baking tray, drizzle with some of the oil from your jar of SDT and add a little salt and pepper to the top. Roast them in the oven until barely tender. You don't want to over cook because you're going to add them to the mix and you don't want them to fall apart. All you over-roasters: refrain! :)

While asparagus is roasting, sautee the leeks and garlic in a little more oil from the jar of SDT. Cook until tender. Once tender, add the sun dried tomatoes and continue to sautee on medium low heat.

On basil: take the washed leaves and stack like-size leaves on top of each other, about four or five at at time. Roll them all up on top of each other and slice. Voila! perfect little julienned pieces of basil!

When your pasta is done, drain and set aside for use in a minute.

After cooking SDT with leek/garlic mix for about 3-5 min, add your sliced 'sausage' and roasted asparagus, jack up the heat just a tad to med/high heat and cook for about another 5 minutes. Eyeball it. Keep in mind, the 'sausage' is not raw so you don't have to worry about 'cooking' it necessarily.

Once everything is mixed and cooking, add the cooked pasta and fresh basil, turn down the heat again and mix well. Here is where you will want to add salt and pepper.

A result of learning how to cook from my mother (a great thing, not a bad thing) is that a lot of meals end up salt-less and pepper-less until the end. We feel it gives you more control on the flavor. I find with this dish that you will need to add some salt, to bring out the flavors and some pepper because it's peppy. Just work with it... add some, taste, repeat.

We use bowls a lot but you can use plates; whatever tickles your fancy. Start with the pasta. I found with the linguini it was quite easy to get it out of the pan first. Then make sure you get a lot of the goodies to go with. To finish the dish, top with a bit more fresh basil, serve and enjoy!

Add ins:
I love recipes that allow you to be creative, imagine that! This one is so simple and versatile, I have found that you can add/do a lot with it! For instance, once I added sliced shitake mushrooms to saute along with the leeks. It gives the whole meal a 'nuttier' flavor. To go greek-ish, you could also add artichoke hearts; although I probably wouldn't add both at once, save them for a star appearance.

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