It’s early spring, that wonderful time of year when we transition from hearty root vegetables to lighter, more expansive foods. The markets fill up with tender greens, fresh sprouts and my personal favorite, asparagus.
Because asparagus is best fresh and the season so short, I tend to go a bit overboard. There are a couple months there when most everything I cook includes asparagus. It makes its way into soup, mixed into my salad, roasted and served with a yummy yogurt dip. All good stuff.
It is only recently that I have gotten my kids on board. They were both quite suspect, refusing to have any thing to do with asparagus. So I mixed it in with a bit of pasta and suddenly it didn’t feel so foreign. Problem solved. I now have two new converts that love asparagus as much as I do (almost).
Power Into Spring
In addition to being amazingly delicious, asparagus is also a fabulous source of folic acid. For those of us that have been pregnant, we know well the important role that folic acid plays in healthy cell division and growth. It has also been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease by ridding the body of the amino acid, homocysteine.
And an added perk – the antioxidants in asparagus reduce the signs of aging, promoting healthy cell replication and reducing the sign of sun damage.
* Source: Murray, Michael. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. 2005.
1 lb brown rice fusilli
2 small shallots, thinly sliced
1 lb mild Italian sausage (optional)
3 cups asparagus, ends trimmed and sliced into 1” pieces
3 garlic cloves, chopped
juice of 1/2 of a lemon
- Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil (it should taste a bit like sea water). Add the fusilli and bring back to a rolling boil. Lower the heat and continue to simmer until the pasta is al dente – tender, but still firm. Set aside 1 cup of pasta water before draining. Leave the pasta in the colander so that you can use the pot for cooking the asparagus.
- Remove the sausage from its casing and begin cooking in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Use a spatula or spoon to break it into small bite-size pieces. Once the sausage is cooked through, remove it from the heat and set aside.
- In the pasta pot, add the olive oil, shallots and a generous pinch of salt. Continue cooking over medium-high heat until the shallots begin to soften and just start to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add the asparagus. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the asparagus have started to brown, about 8-10 minutes. They should still be firm but not crunchy. Add a bit of water along the way if the pan becomes to dry.
- Once the asparagus are done cooking, stir in the garlic followed by the cooked pasta and sausage. Toss well and continue to cook for another minute or two. If you like, you can add some of the pasta water to loosen things up a bit. Flavor with the lemon juice, a pinch of salt, top with your fresh parmesan and serve.