Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Penne with Asparagus and Spring Herbs

Don't let the title of this dish fool you. It's nasty. Well, not so nasty that Sharona and I didn't eat it or not so nasty that I haven't been eating the leftovers.

But still, it wasn't good. I got this recipe from Vegetarian Times Magazine via an annoying cooking blog I habitually read. This is the second pasta dish I've made based on this blog's recommendation, and both have been disappointments. I'm never following one of their recipes again. Better yet, I'm going to stop reading that blog.

But in the event you need a vegan pasta dish that pretends to be an Alfredo, here you go. Just don't say I didn't warn you.

Penne with Asparagus and Spring Herbs
From Vegetarian Times

4 SERVINGS (actually it serves more)

1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
8 cloves garlic, peeled
3/4 cup low-fat, firm silken tofu
4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbs. chopped fresh chives
2 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon
2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed
8 oz. medium carrots (about 3), peeled
12 oz. dried penne pasta

1. Bring large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, in small saucepan, combine broth and garlic; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until garlic is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to blender or food processor. Add tofu, olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste; process until smooth and creamy. Return to
saucepan.Warm over low heat but do not boil. Stir in chives, tarragon, parsley and lemon zest. Cover and keep warm. (Sauce can be prepared ahead. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat before continuing with recipe.)

3. Peel asparagus stalks, if desired, and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths. Cut carrots into 1 3/4-by 14-inch sticks. (I think they mean 1/4-inch stalks).

4. Add pasta to boiling water, stirring to prevent sticking. Cook, stirring often, until just tender, 9 to 11 minutes. While pasta is cooking, place carrots in a steamer basket over boiling water. Top with asparagus. Cover and steam until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain pasta and transfer to large, warm bowl. Add vegetables and reserved
herb sauce; toss to coat. Serve hot with lemon wedges for squeezing, if desired.

A funny thing happened when I poured the creamy tofu sauce over the pasta: it got all chunky. Also, I didn't bother putting fresh tarragon or parsley on it because I was too lazy to buy it. And I used whole wheat pasta.

I would recommend skipping the carrots. While colorful, they didn't seem to fit in with the dish. You could add Parmesan cheese (or fake Parmesan cheese) to it before serving to help the taste.

After the fourth time I ate it, I discovered that if I dumped pasta sauce on top it wasn't nearly as gross.

But this seals the deal. I don't like asparagus.

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