The past couple of weeks have been utterly JAM PACKED with asparagus. We've eaten it raw. Steamed. Grilled. Plain. And buttered. We've dipped fresh spears in green garlic and basil cream cheese. And tucked them into grilled cheese sammiches. We've adorned grilled asparagus with rosemary salt (oooh! so fantastic) and roasted a pound or two with olive oil and "Sea Kelp Delight". We've thrown it on pizza. We even made lasagne with asparagus and morel/leek jack cheese sauce (which, regrettably, I didn't photograph...but it would have made a fantastic blog post).
Everything we've created has been delicious. But, there was one evening in particular when we roasted up some particularly succulent with lemon and sweet Vidalia onions -- and then tossed it with oil-cured olives and tortellini. And I can't get it out of my head. It was so very much worth the (minimal) effort.
First, you take your asparagus, and chop it into 2 inch lengths. Slice an onion in the same manner, and toss the two together.
Zest one of those lemons that's been sitting in your fridge just waiting to be used, and then juice the lemon. Toss the zest and juice with some olive oil and a bit of melted butter. Yes -- you really want the butter here. It adds SO much flavor, and it also ensures good caramelization on your roasted veg. Really fresh asparagus and sweet onions both contain a considerable amount of moisture, so you want to make sure you give them a bit of encouragement in the browning department.
Pour the lemony vinaigrette over your asparagus, and then add salt & pepper to taste.
Layer everything in a baking pan and throw it in the oven at 450º for about 15 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, cook up a bit of tortellini. I'm not normally a fan of dried tortellini, but recently I found a brand I really like. The trick, it seems, is to avoid overcooking the pasta at all costs -- while still getting the dried cheese filling to soften. My tips:
- Use a larger pot to boil the tortellini than you think you need. Plenty of water circulating around the pasta is key.
- Do NOT believe the package instructions. The pasta NEVER needs as long to cook as they recommend.
- Test, test, test. Begin testing those tortellini as soon as they begin to float. Continue testing them until the noodles are toothy-but-tender, and the cheese within the pasta is pleasantly cooked (but not mushy).
When your pasta is cooked, and your asparagus is pleasantly roasted (see what I mean about that caramelization?) you'll want to toss everything together.
And then let your eyes linger on the beauty in the bowl.
Bright and briny. Cheesy and filling. Oh, and did I mention how incredibly EASY it is to throw together on a busy weeknight?
On a cloudy late spring day, this recipe is enough to transport me directly to a sunny Mediterranean beach. And who can argue with that?
Lemony Roasted Asparagus and Sweet Onions
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