Friday, April 27, 2012

Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter

As soon as I saw this recipe, it was definitely a "gotta try" and "oh wait, let me add this and this and ....."

Serves - 4 [actually can serve 6]
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

1 pound asparagus
1 Tblspn olive oil
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 cup plus 2 Tblspn balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp brown sugar [used Splenda blend brown sugar]
1 pound penne
1/4 pound butter, cut into pieces [used Benecol]
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

1.  Heat oven 400ºF.  Snap the tough ends off the asparagus and discard them.  Cut the spears into 1-inch pieces.  Put the asparagus on a baking sheet and toss with the oil and 1/4 tsp each of the salt and pepper.  Roast until tender, about 10 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, put the vinegar in a small saucepan.  Simmer until 3 Tblspn remain.  Stir in the brown sugar and remaining 1/4 tsp pepper.  Remove from the heat.

3.  Cook the penne in a large pot of boiling, salted water until just done, about 13 minutes.  Drain the pasta and toss with the butter, vinegar, asparagus, Parmesan, and the remaining 1-3/4 tsp salt.  Serve with additional Parmesan.

Nutrition Facts based on Serves 6 with each serving as follows:

Note: though total carbs for Dreamfields Pasta is 41g, after you subtract the Dietary Fiber & protected (non-digestible carbs), the digestible carbs is only 5g.

Source: Food & Wine


  • Even though it's not until Step 3 for cooking the pasta, word to the wise start it first.  By the time the water finally comes to a boil, you can easily prep and put the asparagus in the oven to roast, as well as simmering the vinegar.
  • Ok, the original recipe states it's vegetarian.  Either way, the baby bella crimini mushrooms were a great addition.
  • I also added 2 cups shredded chicken.
  • One of the tips the recipe offered - adding toasted nuts (pine nuts, hazelnuts or walnuts).  I think this dish would really be good with the pine nuts.  Unfortunately didn't have any - next time.
  • The other tip - if asparagus is not in season, you can substitute using roasted broccoli - cutting them into small spears, tossed with 2 Tblspn oil and salt & pepper and roast for approximately 15 minutes.
  • This recipe truly lends itself to any adaptations you can think of.
  • As for the Nutrition Facts - I was unable to adjust using the Benecol - which is healthier with the plant sterols [shown to lower cholesterol]
  • I only used 1 tsp of salt, so the sodium would adjust to 603mg.

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