Penne Pasta with Asparagus and Spinach

The asparagus and spinach go together beautifully in this lovely light pasta dish.

Vegetarian; can be made vegan. Hands-on time: 10 mins. Total time: 15 mins.

Contributed by Moira Adams (November 2004).

I love asparagus and look for every opportunity to serve it to my family. But I am often discouraged by the lack of imaginative recipes. Whenever I look up asparagus in a new cook book, all I seem to find is the same old soups and salads.

So I was delighted to come across this simple supper dish on a recent trip to Italy. The asparagus, spinach and pasta combine wonderfully well, and the result is not only delicious, but also very healthy. Between them, asparagus and spinach provide plenty of calcium, iron, potassium, Vitamins A and C, and fiber. And the whole dish is low on cholesterol.

I have given quantities here for two portions. If you prefer a vegan version, leave out the cheese -- perhaps substituting a similarly quantity of cashews or almonds.



Start by cooking the asparagus until it is just tender. If you are not sure how to do that, see my article How to prepare asparagus.

Cook the pasta in boiling water for ten minutes, or according to the directions on the packet.

While the asparagus and pasta are cooking, prepare the onion sauce. Chop the onion, and add the garlic, olive oil, soy sauce and herbs. Using a food processor or blender, blend them together to make a thick paste.

Place the pasta in a warm serving dish. Add the asparagus, then the onion sauce and finally the fresh spinach and the cheese. Serve immediately.

Note on quantities and temperatures:
Quantities are given in American (cups), imperial (oz, fl oz) and metric (g, ml) units. Do not mix the units - use one or other system throughout the recipe.
See also How much does a cup weigh?
oz = ounces, fl oz = fluid ounces, g = grams, ml = milliliters, tsp = teaspoons, tbsp = tablespoons.
Oven temperatures are given in degrees F (Fahrenheit) and C (Celsius).
For fan-assisted ovens, reduce the temperature by 20F or 10C.