Don't lemon, dill, and asparagus just belong together? Spring has sprung, and nothing seems more appealing right now than a lovely plate of angel hair pasta with grilled asparagus, chevre, and leeks tossed in a lemony-dill-white wine sauce. Lemony Pasta With Asparagus and Chevre may have you longing for a perfect spring day, even if it hasn't made an appearance yet!
Asparagus inspires gentle thoughts.
~~ Charles Lamb, English writer (1775-1834)
I have spent a few weeks of #meatlessmonday working on this recipe. I love to feature fresh seasonal ingredients in my recipes, and asparagus is probably my favorite vegetable. I have to "put in a plug" for #meatlessmondays in case you aren't aware of the origins of this important hash tag.
The Meatless Monday movement was founded in 2003 by Sid Lerner in cooperation with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. It is now a global movement, and observed in 36 countries. Going meatless just one day per week has shown to be good for your health, good for your wallet, and very good for the planet we live on.
My husband and I have committed to observe Meatless Mondays whenever possible (which is most of the time 😀 ). I hope you'll take a moment to check out the Meatless Monday website, and consider joining us in this important movement!
I am committed to bringing you regular posts featuring fresh, seasonal ingredients, adequate protein, and my usual global twist... in healthy vegetarian dishes.
Making Lemony Pasta with Asparagus and Chevre
So, about this vegetarian pasta recipe... The asparagus is grilled prior to being cut into bite-sized pieces. The process of grilling the asparagus until the edges are browned intensifies and even changes the flavor through the maillard reaction and caramelization.
I always look for ways to layer flavors in my recipes, and browning imparts more flavor to the food than simply steaming, boiling, or sautéing. I think it is worth the extra step! You don't have to fire up a gas grill to get the lovely flavors; you can accomplish the same thing with a very hot griddle pan.
Once the asparagus is grilled, this dish comes together in about 15 minutes. 🙂 Put your pasta water on to heat while you prepare the asparagus.
Breaking Down Leeks Tip
Chop the white of the leeks in half lengthwise, then into ½" slices. Add them to a prep bowl filled with water, and give them a really good swish to loosen any dirt. The dirt will sink to the bottom, and you can remove the leeks to a few layers of paper towels, and pat them dry.
Finely chop the Fresno chile or red bell pepper, grate the lemon zest, and chop the fresh dill. Rinse and drain your chick peas.
At this point your pasta water should be nearly ready, and the asparagus waiting. Chop it into bite-sized pieces if you haven't already.
Start the sauté and cook the pasta. Add the asparagus and cooked pasta into the sauce, and combine the ingredients using a pasta fork. Remove the pasta and sauce to a platter, top with the crumbled chevre, and additional fresh dill. Voilà!
This is a beautiful springtime dish. You may choose to serve this as a stand-alone main dish (as I do) or with grilled fish or chicken.
Lemony Pasta With Asparagus and Chevre pairs well with an unoaked, crisp white wine such as viognier, unoaked (or very lightly oaked) chardonnay, or albariño. Craft beer lovers would enjoy a saison or a good quality lager. No Bud Light, please! 😛 Have you considered observing Meatless Mondays? I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic!
- 1 generous bunch of asparagus, woody ends removed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 leeks, woody green and root end removed
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 or 2 Fresno chiles or
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper and ½ bell pepper, finely chopped *
- ½ cup white wine
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 can chick peas, rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped (plus more for garnish)
- vegetable stock/broth*
- sea salt/fresh ground pepper
- 4 ounces chevre, crumbled*
- 8 ounces Barilla Plus angel hair, cooked to al dente*
- * See Notes
- Put a large pot of water on to heat for pasta. Add a palm full of salt to the water.
- Grill the asparagus dry (no oil) until edges are nicely browned. Cut into bite-sized pieces, and set aside.
- Slice the white part of the leeks lengthwise, and then cut into ½" slices. Add to a medium prep bowl, cover with water, swish vigorously (so that any dirt present sinks to the bottom). Remove the washed leeks to a clean towel or paper towels, and blot dry. Set aside.
- To a large saute pan over medium-high, add the olive oil, leeks, garlic, and Fresno chile*. Saute until leeks are soft. Do not let them burn! Reduce heat if necessary.
- Add the white wine to the pan. Allow the white wine to reduce slightly - about 3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Angel hair requires 6-7 minutes for al dente. Do not overcook. Drain, and set aside while the sauce is finished.
- Add lemon zest and juice, and chick peas to the leek mixture. Bring it back to a boil. Turn off the heat, and add the fresh dill. Stir well to combine. If mixture looks at all dry, add a little vegetable stock.
- Add in the cooked angel hair. Using a pasta fork, toss the pasta to coat with the sauce, then place the pasta on a platter.
- Top with crumbled chevre and a sprinkle of chopped dill. Divide among 4 pasta plate or bowls.
- * See Notes
I love the sweet heat of a red Fresno chile. It looks similar to a jalapeno, but bright red. They are about as hot as jalapenos, so use 1 or 2 depending on your heat preference. When I can't find them, I substitute ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper and ½ a red bell pepper finely chopped. This provides the heat and the color of the Fresno chile.
You don't need this to be really saucy, but you don't want it to be dry. After adding in the lemon juice and chick peas, you should see about a ½ cup of liquid in the pan. Add vegetable stock/broth if it looks dry.
I almost always use Barilla Plus pasta because 1 serving contains 10 grams of protein. This becomes very important with vegetarian dishes.
Chevre doesn't really "crumble." I try to remember to stick it in the freezer for a few minutes (not too long!) so that it's easier to handle. I end up pinching off little chunks and scattering them over the hot pasta. They will melt slightly, and when the pasta goes into the individual bowls, and it will be creamy and not incorporated completely into the dish.
Macronutrients (from MyFitnessPal): 496 calories; 25 g protein; 66 g carbohydrates; 14 g fat.
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Cook N Home 02401 Stainless Steel 4-Piece 8 Quart Pasta Cooker Steamer Multipots
Barilla ProteinPlus Multigrain Pasta, Angel Hair, 14.5 Ounce (Pack of 12)
Spaghetti Server, [Rustproof, Integral Forming, Durable] Newness 304 Stainless Steel Pasta Fork with Vacuum Ergonomic Handle, Comfortable Grip Design Spaghetti Server for Kitchen, 14.33 Inches
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 496Total Fat: 14gCarbohydrates: 86gProtein: 25g