Friday, April 9, 2010

Cavatappi with Asparagus, Arugula, Walnuts and Bleu Cheese

I just finished planting my garden for vegetables, onions, garlic, radishes, tomatoes, mixed micro field greens and lots of arugula. The arugula I grew last season is ready for eating and it's my favorite lettuce. If you like spice, arugula packs a peppery punch and can be used not just in salads, but pizza, pasta, soups and even topped on a sandwich. This is a great, quick recipe, particularly on a Friday, to enjoy with a great glass of Sauvignon Blanc to get the weekend underway.

Cavatappi is a short, tubular corkscrew-shaped pasta. Penne is a fine substitute. If you prefer, use mild-flavored baby spinach in place of peppery arugula. The grated apple, added just before serving, balances the other flavors in this dish.


1 tablespoon
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 pound cavatappi
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound asparagus , bottom 1 inch trimmed and discarded, spears halved lengthwise if larger than 1/2 inch in diameter and cut into 1-inch lengths
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup walnuts , chopped
4 cups arugula (lightly packed), washed and dried thoroughly (about 1 bunch)
6 ounces blue cheese , preferably Roquefort, crumbled
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 Granny Smith apple , peeled, for grating over pasta

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in stockpot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta, stir to separate, and cook until al dente. Drain and return to pot.

While pasta is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until beginning to smoke. Add asparagus, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, without stirring, until asparagus begins to brown, about 1 minute. Add walnuts and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until asparagus is tender-crisp and nuts are toasted, about 4 minutes; toss in arugula until wilted. Add asparagus mixture, cheese, vinegar, and remaining 3 tablespoons oil to pasta in stockpot; toss to combine. Serve immediately, grating apple over individual servings.

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