Mar 09 2013

Creamy Asparagus Pasta

I tried another Eating Well recipe from the Mix It Up nutrition program that my work is doing. This time around I substituted a few things because I didn’t have all of the ingredients and wasn’t feeling like making a special trip to the grocery store. I’ll include my substitutions, but will mention what the original Creamy Asparagus Pasta recipe actually called for.

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We are in our 5th week of the nutrition competition with only 3 more weeks to go. My team has dropped into 14th place. A few team members are finding it hard to get in 9 servings a day and that’s pretty much the only way to compete with the top teams. I’m super proud of our team, we have all  worked hard to hit every color category.

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I’m the first pie chart. I clearly favor red and green fruits and vegetables. I’m trying very hard to ramp up my blue – so far I’m primarily eating black beans, purple cabbage, frozen blueberries and blackberries and purple kale when I can find it. Raisins are on the list, but I don’t want the extra sugar. 3 more weeks and then the 8 week 60 min./day exercise challenge starts back up. Excited to change it up this go around, I recently joined a new gym. Woohoo!

O.k… so back to the Creamy Asparagus Pasta recipe.

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The Ingredients:

  • 10 oz. Mrs. Leeper’s Rice Vegetable Twists (Recipe called for 8 oz. whole-wheat penne pasta)
  • 1 Bunch Asparagus – trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 Cups Whole Milk – room temperature
  • 4 Teaspoons Stone Ground Mustard (Recipe called for whole-grain mustard)
  • 4 Teaspoons Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 2 Teaspoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Crushed Garlic (Recipe called for minced)
  • 1 Teaspoons Dried Crushed Rosemary (Recipe called for 2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon, or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest  – I used Meyer lemons
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, divided (Recipe called for 1/2 cup)

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 3 minutes less than the package directions. Add asparagus and continue cooking until the pasta and asparagus are just tender, 3 minutes more. Drain and return to the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk milk, mustard, flour, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant and lightly browned, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Whisk in the milk mixture. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in dried crushed rosemary, lemon zest and juice.
  3. Stir the sauce into the pasta-asparagus mixture. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sauce is thick, creamy and coats the pasta, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan. Divide the pasta among 4 bowls and top with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan and Meyer lemon zest.

Link to the original EatingWell.com Recipe

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I prefer the thinner asparagus in general, so that’s what I used. I washed, chopped and set the asparagus aside until my pasta had cooked most of the way through.

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Inglehoffer Stone Ground Mustard is one of my favorite mustards. I’m a huge fan of mustard seeds in my mustard. I’ve been known to dip pretzels in it for a snack. I’ve found it for pretty cheap at Cost Plus World Market, but they also have it at some of the grocery stores that I frequent.

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I brought my milk mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly, and cooked it until thickened. I then added the dried crushed rosemary, lemon zest and lemon juice.

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I added the asparagus to the Mrs. Leeper’s Rice Vegetable Twists with 3 minutes remaining. I’ve found that 7 minutes is the perfect amount of time for the twists, they are really easy to overcook and then they turn to mush. A gluten-free friend turned me on to the twists at one of the Foodbuzz festivals a few years back. The twists get their coloring from spinach, beet and tomato powder. If you read the description on Amazon, it will tell you beef powder, ha! ha! – thinking that might stop some vegetarians from purchasing it… I assure you, I read the packaging, it’s beet not beef powder.

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The directions told me to stir the sauce into the asparagus/pasta mixture, but I did the opposite… oh well, it worked just fine.

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Not the prettiest bowl in the world, but it tasted great! I would have loved to try the fresh tarragon, and will do so next time. I also might try switching up the veggies for next time too. If you are not a mustard grain lover, you might want to go with 2 teaspoons instead of 4 – I could definitely taste the mustard zing… but for me, that was a good thing.

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I portioned out 4 servings and each was about 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups each. I ate the bowl piping hot for lunch… but could also see it as a side dish to grilled veggies (I’m a little obsessed with mass amounts of veggies right now), chicken or fish.

I’m having fun trying the Eating Well recipes from the Mix It Up app. We also get daily tips. The tip for today was about pint-sized portions – one of the things it mentioned is that children have a natural instinct to stop eating when they’re full… so let them tell you when they’ve had enough. Don’t pressure them to clean their plates if they’re not hungry.

Question: Were you (or are you still) part of the “Clean Your Plate” club? We were not pressured to clean our plates as kids… but we were encouraged to eat what we served ourselves as we got older. I do however remember sitting at the dinner table with a full glass of milk and being told… finish your milk. It was after numerous stomach aches that we determined that I was just not meant to be a big milk drinker.

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1 comment

    • Sandy on March 11, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Oh, looks so good! I’ll have to try this!!

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