Guys, it’s asparagus season! What more can I say!
Every year when May comes around, fresh Ontario asparagus on my list whenever I venture to the market or grocery store. I’ve had enough frozen green beans from the garden, thank you very much, and am ready to dig into this sweet and distinctly flavoured veggie.
I like to get my fill the minute it appears on stores shelves or market booths since it only hangs around for two short months. You can typically find imported asparagus from Mexico over the winter months but it doesn’t taste as good and can definitely chew up your weekly grocery budget!
I’m not sure when or why I have become so enamoured with this beautiful vegetable but dang, it’s delicious. I could literally eat a whole tray of asparagus grilled or roasted in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Since I love it so much as a side dish, I had never thought about incorporating it into salads or main dishes.
But why not?!
This got me thinking about throwing some asparagus into a quick dish that I could whip up on a weeknight to fill up little bellies before heading out to baseball and soccer. Since my kids love pasta and salmon, I figured why not throw them in the mix too so that everyone is happy?! That’s called being considerate but not catering :)
One of the things I love the most about this recipe is that it uses an entire package of pasta. Am I the only one out there who really dislikes when a recipe calls for 2/3 or 3/4 of a package of pasta, only to have a small remnant left that doesn’t give you enough for another full meal? Sigh.
Also, you may have noticed that I used white pasta for this recipe.
Here’s the deal: I couldn’t find whole grain rigatoni at my local grocery store and as a busy mompreneur, I don’t always have time to drive around the city to find a special ingredient. I am sure the same might be true for you!
Let’s be honest, having white pasta one night for dinner won’t kill you. For the athletes out there, white pasta may actually be a smarter choice before games as it is quicker to digest than whole grain pasta.
If you prefer whole grain noodles, an easy substitution which is readily available would be whole grain penne. I just wanted the size of the rigatoni for this dish. Plus, it’s a pasta that we rarely eat so it’s nice to walk on the wild side and switch it up every once in a while.
Pair this springtime pasta dish with a simple green leaf lettuce salad on the side with a lemon olive oil vinaigrette and you’ve got perfection.
Lemon Garlic Pasta with Asparagus and Salmon
Makes 6-8 servings
450 g (16 oz) dry.rigatoni pasta
0.5 kg (1 lb) salmon fillet
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch (0.5 kg or 1 lb) asparagus
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Parmesan cheese, shaved or grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400F.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.
While the pasta is cooking, place salmon on a baking tray and season with the salt and pepper. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes until cooked through. Time will vary depending on thickness of salmon and oven.
Once the salmon is cooking, prepare the asparagus by snapping off the bottom 1/2 inch of the stems to remove the tough woody part. Chop the rest of the stalks into 1-inch pieces, about the same size as the pasta and place in a large skillet with 1/2 inch of water and cover with the lid. Bring the water and asparagus to a boil and then let it steam and simmer for 3 minutes or until it becomes tender and turns a brilliant green colour. Drain asparagus and return to skillet.
Add 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and the minced garlic to the skillet, alongside the asparagus, and cook over medium heat for another 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
Prior to draining the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and set aside. Drain the rest of the liquid from the pasta and add the pasta to the asparagus skillet, alongside the cooked and flaked salmon.
Add lemon juice and lemon zest and mix together. Adjust olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. If pasta becomes dry when mixing, add some of the reserved pasta cooking water as required.
Serve hot with Parmesan cheese, a pinch of salt and a dash of fresh ground black pepper.
Take it one bite at at time,