CELEBRATING SPRING: Asparagus and pasta provide meatless main dish

Asparagus and strawberries capture spring at its delicious best. Elegant, yet easy to prepare, asparagus usually holds side-dish status. This main dish pasta turns those succulent spears into a satisfying meatless main dish. The roasted tomatoes add a nice touch of sweetness.

Strawberries dipped in melt-in-your-mouth dark chocolate are the perfect finish to a satisfying springtime meal.

Spaghetti with Roasted Asparagus and Lemony Basil Alfredo Sauce

Makes 4 main-dish servings

Roasting the veggies adds flavor and richness to this springtime pasta. Just follow my easy directions for luscious, homemade Alfredo sauce without all the fat and sodium in most jarred sauces.

Photo courtesy of Villalon
Photo courtesy of Villalon

Veggies & Pasta

1 large lemon

1 pound asparagus spears, ends trimmed

2 cups grape tomatoes

3 teaspoons olive oil, divided

½ teaspoon white pepper, divided

6 ounces multigrain high-protein spaghetti

Heat oven to 425 F. Bring a very large pot of unsalted water to a rapid boil for pasta.

Veggies & Pasta: Finely grate zest from lemon. Set aside. Squeeze 2 tablespoons lemon juice.

Cut asparagus diagonally into 2-inch pieces.  Pile with tomatoes in center of rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons olive oil and the lemon juice.  Toss well. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon pepper; toss. Spread in single layer. Roast until asparagus is tender and tomatoes begin to turn brown, about 25 minutes.

While veggies roast, cook pasta until just firm to the bite, about 10 minutes, stirring well occasionally to prevent clumping. Drain, rinse well under hot water, separating strands and shaking off water. Set aside.


2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup fat-free milk

1 (12-ounce) can fat-free evaporated milk

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

½ cup finely-shredded Parmesan cheese, not powdery

¾ cup basil leaves, torn into pieces

Now make the sauce: Put flour in a bowl. Using a fork, slowly whisk in fat-free milk, dissolving flour.  Shake the canned milk well. Open and slowly whisk milk into the cup. Add remaining pepper.

Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in the milk mixture, using a wooden spoon to stir.  Cook, for 5 minutes or until mixture just begins to boil and thickens slightly, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid scorching. Be sure to stir in corners of pan and don’t overcook. Remove from heat.

Stir in Parmesan, basil, and lemon zest. Add pasta and stir gently. Pour vegetables over top. Toss well and serve immediately.

Nutritional information per serving: 362 calories; 10.5g fat; 3.5 g saturated fat; 20 mg cholesterol; 309 mg sodium; 49g carbohydrate; 6 g dietary fiber; 16.5 g sugars; 24.5 g protein;  % Daily Value: 45% Vit. A; 45% Calcium; 35% Vit. C; 27.5% Iron

Photo courtesy of Okea
Photo courtesy of Okea


Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Makes 4 servings

Sweet strawberries make for simple perfection in this crazy-easy dessert.

1 pint (2 cups) medium or large strawberries, unhulled

3 tablespoons dark chocolate chip morsels

½ teaspoon vegetable oil

Line plate with waxed paper.

Gently rinse strawberries. Gently blot completely dry with paper towels.  Place on plate.

Microwave chocolate in microwave-safe bowl on Medium-High power (70%) for 45 seconds.  Stir; chips may still have their shape. Microwave another 10-15 seconds, if needed, or until chocolate can be stirred smooth. When chips are completely melted, stir in vegetable oil.

Quickly dip berry tips in chocolate, shaking off extra chocolate and letting it drip back into bowl. Place berries on plate. Refrigerate, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. Or, if you simply can’t wait, eat immediately!

Cover and refrigerate leftovers.

Nutritional information per serving: 82 calories; 4.75g fat; 2.25 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 0 mg sodium; 12g carbohydrate; 1.75g fiber; 8.5 g sugars; % Daily Value – 2% Calcium; 70% Vit. C; 2 % Iron

Photo courtesy of spinetta
Photo courtesy of spinetta

Asparagus Tips:

  • Look for long, blemish-free spears with closed, compact tips.
  • Select bunches with similar sized spears so they’ll cook at the same rate.
  • Asparagus likes cool and moisture. Refrigerate bunches upright in about one inch of water or wrap the cut ends in damp paper towel, cover towel with plastic and refrigerate.

Cooking questions?

Email me at kitchenwithcarla@hotmail com or …

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