Here’s a simple and easy-to-put-together dish that gets its great taste from fresh vegetables and basil, snappy extra-virgin olive oil, and truly delectable pasta. Barilla is one of my favorite gluten-free pastas, but I recently discovered Power Pasta at a gluten-free festival in Austin, and I developed this recipe to show it off.
Power Pasta is worth exploring, even if you’re not on a gluten-free diet. Being made from red lentils, Power Pasta has a subtle red blush after cooking, a gentle sweet-nutty flavor, and perhaps best of all, its wonderfully satisfying because it is a whole food packed with protein, vitamins and minerals. It’s best if slightly undercooked because it changes from stiff to too soft if even a tad overcooked. While the label suggests cooking the rotini for 8-10 minutes, I find if I drain it after about 6 minutes of cooking, the pasta has a pleasant, resilient texture. One more noteworthy characteristic: we had a little leftover, and it reheated better than other gluten-free pastas. This is a new product with limited distribution, so to try, order it directly from Power Pasta.
I urge you to cook this recipe even if you don’t try the red lentil pasta. It’s a perfect dish for spring, loaded with seasonal vegetables that are so good right now, they need only a little aged Parmesan cheese (have you tried the 3-year-old Parmigiano Reggiano Stravecchio at Trader Joe’s?) and a shower of toasted pine nuts to shine. And I almost forgot to mention: the sauce can be made in the time it takes to cook the pasta.
Pasta with Asparagus, Chard, and Pine Nuts
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 2 big pinches red pepper flakes
- 1 bunch chard, ribs and stems discarded, leaves chopped
- Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed, but into 1½-inch lengths
- 6 ounces gluten-free rotini or penne pasta
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- Coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and red pepper flakes and sauté until the shallot begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the chard leaves, sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir to coat with the oil. Add ¼ cup water. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the chard is tender, about 6 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the asparagus to a large pot of boiling salted water and cook until just tender-crisp, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon transfer the asparagus to a bowl. Add the pasta to the boiling water and stir. Cover and return to a boil. Uncover and cook until the pasta is almost tender but still firm to the bite, about 6 minutes for rotini and 7 minutes for penne. Reserve about ½ cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Drain the pasta.
- Add the asparagus to the chard and stir over medium heat to warm. Add the pasta and stir to combine. Mix in the basil, lemon juice, and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, adding some of the reserved pasta liquid if dry. Season to taste with salt and generously with pepper. Divide the pasta between 2 plates. Sprinkle with the pine nuts and cheese and serve.