Baked Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Asparagus, Spinach, Zucchini, and Peas

August 3, 2010 § Leave a comment


  • 1 bag of Trader Joe’s Rotelle whole wheat pasta
  • 1 container Trader Joe’s low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 3 medium zucchini (sliced into 1 inch thick strips)
  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 1 bag of frozen spinach (defrosted and wrung out)
  • 1 cup of fresh peas or frozen peas defrosted
  • Olive oil
  • 3-4 pieces of Trader Joe’s cracked wheat sourdough bread
  • 3 large cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Zest of lemon
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Homemade or home style ranch dressing (for serving)


1.  Preheat your oven to 425º.  Cut the head of cauliflower into 1 inch florets.  Toss the florets with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Spread the florets out, in a single layer, on a rimmed baking pan.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until florets are tender and have browned in spots.

2.  While the cauliflower is cooking, heat a grill pan and grill up the bunch of asparagus and zucchini.  When the asparagus and zucchini is cooked, be careful you still want them to be crisp, set them on a plate to cool.

3.  Cook the pasta according to the packages directions.   Make sure you generously salt the pasta water to add flavor to the pasta.

4.  While the pasta is cooking and the veggies are cooling off, make the crouton crust for the top of the pasta.  In a food processor, combine the bread (tear them into large pieces), chopped parsley, and lemon zest.  Pulse until you have medium sized crumbs.  Add a drizzle of olive oil and pulse 2-3 times to just incorporate the oil.

5.  When the pasta is done cooking, drain the pasta and reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta water for use later in this recipe.  Put the drained pasta back into the same pot you cooked the pasta in.

6.  To the cooked pasta, add the roasted cauliflower, grilled asparagus and zucchini (cut it into bite sized pieces before adding it into the pot), spinach, peas, red pepper flakes, the reserved pasta water, and the container of low-fat ricotta cheese. Mix until combined.

7.  Add Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

8.  Put the pasta in a large baking dish.  Top the pasta with the breadcrumb mixture, drizzle lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Bake in a 350° oven until the pasta is heated all the way through and the crumb topping has browned (about 30-40 minutes).

I serve ranch dressing on the side for this pasta dish.  If you aren’t obsessive about counting calories, a drizzle of cold ranch dressing on top of this warm summer pasta is heavenly.


Whole Wheat and Grilled Asparagus Pasta Monday

March 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

I have been eying pencil thin asparagus at the farmer’s market for the last month.  It looked great, so I finally decided to buy some and create a protein rich vegetarian dish.  I love grilled asparagus, so I wanted to make sure I grilled it, instead of steaming.  I love the  summertime feel that the grilled asparagus brings to this dinner .  It reminds me that summer will be here soon enough.  Enjoy.


  • 1/2 bag of whole wheat fussili pasta (Trader Joe’s brand is great!)
  • 2 lbs fresh asparagus
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice (you can also add some zest if you really like lemon)
  • 3 tbsp. roasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/8 cup chopped fresh chives
  • salt and pepper to taste


1.  Bring water, for the pasta, to a boil and generously salt.  While water is heating up, grill your asparagus on a grill pan over medium heat. I love to use my cast iron Le Creuset grill pan with panini press.

2.  When water starts to boil, add whole wheat pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes.  The pasta should still have some bite to it and should not be soggy.  While pasta is cooking, turn asparagus every 2 minutes.  You want the asparagus to get grill marks, but you do not want them to burn.

3.  When pasta is done, drain well with a colander.  Add the pasta back to the pan and add the butter, chives, Parmesan, lemon juice, pine nuts, and cottage cheese.  Cut the asparagus into bit size pieces (about 2 inches long) and add to the pasta.

4.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  You can also add more or less cottage cheese (depending on how much you like cottage cheese).

*Cottage cheese goes well with the fusilli pasta because the cheese gets stuck in the spirals.  However, if you do not like cottage cheese, you can substitute it for a nice herb goat cheese.

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