Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Are You Serving One of This Season's Most Nutritious Vegetables?

My family and I truly love asparagus so I am always happy to see the price of fresh asparagus start dropping this time of year.  I will admit that I have not been adventurous enough to plant it in our garden so I have to buy it at the store.  Asparagus was on sale just last week so I bought some to make one of our favorite recipes, a quick and easy pasta dish.  This recipe originally came from Nick Jr. magazine but I have adapted it to fit my family's tastes. 

What's so great about asparagus?  1 cup of raw asparagus has only 27 calories but is a good source of fiber, vitamins A, C, E, and K, folate, thiamin, riboflavin, copper, iron, and manganese ( I probably could have saved time by listing nutrients it doesn't contain)!  It is another truly nutrient-rich food!

Here is the recipe:

Pasta & Asparagus Primavera
8 ounces whole wheat rotini pasta
1 bunch (1 pound) of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 Tablespoon flour
1/3 cup prepared pesto
1 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts*,  lightly toasted

Cook pasta according to the package directions.  Add the asparagus pieces during the last 5 minutes of cooking.  Drain and set aside.

Return the pot to the stove.  Add the broth and flour and whisk together until well blended.  Cook over medium-high heat until mixture boils and then reduce heat until mixture simmers, stirring constantly.  Continue to simmer until the mixture thickens, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the pesto until smooth.  Add pasta, asparagus, bell pepper, and Parmesan cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with the pine nuts and serve.

*nuts can be a choking hazard for children under the age of 4.

You can easily substitute chopped walnuts or other nuts if you don't have pine nuts. 

Crediting information:   Makes 14 servings.  Each serving is creditable for 1 bread/bread alternate and 1/4 cup of the vegetable requirement at lunch or supper for 3-5 year old children.

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