[Originally posted on 5/10/18]
The asparagus pasta dish is super easy to make, and it's a great way to add nutritious ingredients to something that most kids like already: PASTA! Our kids were extra interested in helping out with this recipe (See Lil' Sous Chef), and their favorite task was juicing the lemons 🍋
This asparagus pasta dish is extra special to us because it's the only meal so far that we didn't concoct over email, text and phone. Living in different parts of the country certainly doesn't afford us this luxury very often. Mom, Marcie, and Marcie's kids came to visit me in Portland.
We went out to eat a bunch, as I wanted to take them to all my favorite places. But one night the kids were kind of wild and we wanted to stay in for the night. Perfect chance to collaborate on a meal together! It was uncharacteristically warm in Portland and we felt like a more summery dish. Voilà...Summer Asparagus Pasta!
🌈 KIDIFY THE MEAL 🌈
🍅Kids pick the pasta. When shopping for this recipe's ingredients, let your kids pick out the type of noodle. Any type with grooves work, like rotini, fusilli, farfalle (bow tie), etc. You can also go whole wheat to make the meal healthier.
🍅Scale down the lemon. If your kids don't like lemons, consider eliminating the zest and using a smaller, unobtrusive amount of lemon juice.
🍴 MODIFY THE MEAL🍴
🍅Make it Vegetarian! Really, the ingredient that prevents this from being a vegetarian dish is the prosciutto. Your first option is simply to take the prosciutto out of the ingredient roster. If you want to swap it with something equally savory, try pickled onions, capers, or salted and roasted pine nuts.
🍅Make it Vegan! To make this vegan, first replace the butter with olive oil, and decrease the amount. I just eye-balled it. Then, obviously eliminate the cheese, prosciutto and milk. Add in one/some of the following ingredients: pickled onions, capers, or salted and roasted pine nuts. The result won't be as creamy, per se, but the olive oil gives the dish such a good flavor and it actually ends up tasting lighter and more summery. I would definitely advocate for pine nuts. They are perfect for this dish.
🍅Make it Gluten Free! The only ingredient in this dish that contains gluten for sure is the noodles. You can remedy this very easily. Some of the gluten-free noodle products I like are Ancient Harvest quinoa pasta (just be careful not to overcook cause it can get mushy) and Trader Joe's Organic Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli Pasta. Another option is rice noodles, although small rice noodles that aren't mai fun style might be hard to find.
🍅Make it Dairy Free! First, replace the butter with olive oil, and decrease the amount. I just eye-balled it. Then, obviously eliminate the cheese and milk. The result won't be as creamy, per se, but the olive oil gives the dish such a good flavor and it actually ends up tasting lighter and more summery.
Summer Asparagus Pasta
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 lb pasta (rotini or fusilli)
- 4 T butter (salted)
- 1 bunch asparagus (chopped into 1" pieces)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 medium lemon - zested fully & juiced (or 1/4 cup lemon juice)
- 3/4 cup parmesan cheese (finely shredded)
- 1 cup milk
- 3 oz prosciutto (chopped)
- 1 pt cherry or grape tomatoes (halved)
- 4 handfulls arugula
- salt & pepper (to taste)
- Heat water in a sizable pot for pasta. Once boiling, add salt and pasta, and cook according to package. When done, strain the pasta and pour back into the pot.
- Meanwhile, heat a medium-large pan on medium heat and add 2 T of the butter. Once butter is melted, toss in asparagus and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes. Then, cover pan with a lid and bring heat down to low. Steam asparagus for another 5 minutes, covered. Remove from heat and pour into the pot with the pasta.
- Add the lemon zest (we're into this zester right now!), lemon juice, cheese, milk and the remaining 2 T butter to the pasta pot. Stir.
- Then add prosciutto, tomatoes, and arugula to the pasta pot. Stir and season to taste with salt & pepper.