From Everyday Flexitarian: Recipes for Vegetarians and Meat lovers alike
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15-25 minutes
1lb/500g dried penne (1 cup per person in case you want to grow or shrink the recipe)
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
16 spears of asparagus (3-4 spears per person), woody ends snapped off and rest cut into 1-2” pieces
3 tbsp olive oil (for final cooking)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely shredded
½ cup thinly sliced sun dried tomatoes (I like mine in oil)
1 can (19oz/540ml) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 cups, lightly packed baby spinach leaves, thinly sliced
1 cup broth (for vegetarian version I’d use vegetable broth, if you’re adding chicken, use chicken broth, for shrimp – my version – use either chicken or fish stock)
½ cup fresh basil, finely sliced across (chiffonade)
¾ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
As above plus:
3-5 oz/90-150g chicken breast, bone in with skin
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh basil, finely sliced across (chiffonade)
4-6 large shrimp per person, peeled & deveined (if frozen, thaw in running cold water for about 5 minutes before peeling)
1 tbsp basil pesto
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F/220°C and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil (for easy cleanups). Or use your BBQ grill – if so, don’t cut your asparagus spears until they’re grilled so they won’t fall through the grates and place them across the grates during grilling.
2. Bring a large pot (or Dutch oven) of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook as directed on the packaging. Drain and set aside.
3. If you are grilling/roasting chicken…
Brush the breast with 1 tbsp olive oil and then rub 1 tbsp of thinly sliced basil over the chicken.
Place on the grill or on the prepared baking sheet, skin side up. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until meat turns opaque and internal temperature reaches 165°F/75°C and juices run clear.
Once cooked, remove skin and bones and cut chicken into strips and set aside.
4. If you’re grilling/roasting shrimp…(my own flexitarian version)
Toss peeled shrimp with pesto and if roasting, place on one side of the prepared baking sheet.
If grilling, skewer the shrimp together so they don’t fall through the grate. Wooden skewers need soaking for 15 minutes beforehand so they won’t burn.
Flip after 2 minutes and continue to cook until shrimps are just pink. Cook them too long and they will be rubbery.
5. Grilling/roasting asparagus…
To grill, leave spears whole, toss with olive oil, salt & pepper. You can opt for a grill basket, in which case, cut your spears into 1-2” pieces. Grill until tender (4-10 minutes depending on how thin/thick your spears are)
To roast, cut the spears into pieces, toss with olive oil, salt & pepper and lay on prepared baking sheet. (Note: I did the shrimp at the same time, with shrimp on one side of the sheet and asparagus on the other. Easy to remove one or other as it cooks)
6. Final cooking…
Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently for 30 seconds. Stir in onions and cook for 5 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots, ½ cup of basil and pinch of salt, toss and cook for 3 minutes or so.
Stir in chickpeas, spinach, and stock. Bring to a boil and lower heat. Simmer for 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
7. Toss the warm pasta with the cooked vegetables in a large bowl. Stir in pepper to taste (I added a pinch of red chili pepper flakes too) and grated Parmesan cheese. Add the grilled asparagus (and chicken or shrimp). Toss and serve.