Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Whole Wheat Pasta with Asparagus and Breadcrumbs

When spring arrives so does the local asparagus. I always looking for different ways to use asparagus when it is in season. Since I love pasta, pairing it with asparagus makes sense in my house. Isn't everything improved when you pair it with pasta?

The breadcrumb topping is something that I do frequently. Traditionally southern Italians use toasted bread crumbs instead of cheese. I like the textural variation that the bread crumbs bring to pasta dishes. If you want the flavor to more closely resemble cheese add a tablespoon or two of nutritional yeast. In this dish I didn't want the yeast to overpower the light flavor of asparagus or the pine nuts which are the stars of the dish.

This recipe makes a nice one dish meal for days when you don't want to make multiple dishes for dinner.

Whole Wheat Pasta with Asparagus and Breadcrumb
Serves 4 as a main dish


13.25 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
1.5 - 2 lbs of fresh asparagus, cut into bite size pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
Zest from 1 lemon
Lemon wedges, for serving - optional


Over medium heat toast whole wheat panko in olive oil until lightly brown. Then add pine nuts and garlic and continue to toast until pine nuts are lightly brown but garlic is soft (be careful not to burn the garlic which makes it very bitter).

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Add the asparagus to the pasta cooking water during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Toss the pasta, asparagus and parsley with the breadcrumbs. Check the pasta for salt and pepper, adjust as necessary. Plate the pasta and grate the fresh lemon zest on top. Serve with lemon wedges if desired. If you use the lemon juice you can reduce the salt in the dish.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 517.48
Calories From Fat (21%) - 106.92
Total Fat - 12.47g
Saturated Fat - 1.01g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 111.56mg
Potassium - 457.84mg
Total Carbohydrates - 88.44g
Fiber - 16.09g
Sugar - 7.77g
Protein - 19.22g


I tend to make one dish pasta meals during the week. This is one of those dishes that makes a great dinner when accompanied by a salad. The toasted bread crumbs add a nice crunchy textural variation with the soft pasta. I love the nice nuttiness you get from toasted pine nuts. They add a surprising amount of a flavor to this dish. This is nice light dish to serve when the weather is starting to get warmer but you want pasta for dinner.

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