It might not be asparagus season anymore and I guess we’re pretty far from it now, huh? So far from it that it feels like it will be asparagus season again in a few months! I may be exaggerating, but it is getting cold out and even though I’ve been craving all things creamy and comforting, I just can’t give up on the warmer season veggies all together – not yet, anyway! I had to get in one last spring/summer vegetable fix before I devote my kitchen to entirely to chili, hearty soups and all things squash!
I had to merge my desire for summery vegetables with my need for comfort food…in comes this Creamy Asparagus Pasta! I proclaimed my mad love for asparagus when I posted my Parmesan Asparagus Frittata earlier this year and even though I get completely bombarded by asparagus from my parent’s garden in spring, I just can’t get enough of it! Did you know that established plants can keep producing for up to 8 weeks? That’s crazy! I continue to crave this tasty veggie long after the stalks have stopped coming in and I must give into those cravings! I love it grilled, or sauteed and topped with parmesan, but I think this pasta is a new favorite!
I started with a simple creamy alfredo sauce recipe, added a hint of lemon and some chopped asparagus, and ended up with an amazingly delicious dinner that I could eat any day of the year. Yes, this was the perfect way to transition from fresh summer veggies to creamy and comforting! I usually reserve something as heavy as a cream sauce for the colder months, but the subtle hint of lemon makes this dish feel light enough to enjoy even on warm days! This sauce reheats very well, so I always make extra to pack in the hubby’s lunch!
Pasta with Asparagus and Cream Sauce
- 1 lb asparagus, rinsed and chopped
- 8 oz. spaghetti noodles (1/2 package)
- 4 oz. cream cheese
- 4 T butter
- 3/4 cup milk, warmed
- 1 tsp garlic
- 1 T lemon juice
- pinch of salt and pepper
- Boil pasta according to package directions.
- Add cream cheese to a saucepan over low heat. When it begins to melt, add butter. Melt over low heat and whisk to combine. It will not combine until completely melted, you may need to use a spatula to help incorporate it.
- Add the warmed milk, slowly and the remaining ingredients. Whisk to combine. Cook over medium low heat for about 7 minutes. It should be slightly thinner than you want it, as it will thicken upon cooling.
- Meanwhile, add asparagus and a small amount of water to a large frypan and cook over medium low heat until tender. Drain the water from the pan.
- Add sauce and pasta to pan and toss to coat. Sprinkle with dried thyme, if desired. Serve warm.
I love orzo. I love it even more when it’s smothered in cheese. This was an easy and delicious dish that I see reappearing on my table in my future, maybe with some more vegetables thrown in.
Cheesy Orzo with Broccoli (serves ~3)
- 1 cup uncooked orzo
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ~1 1/2 cups frozen broccoli cuts, thawed
- 1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used colby jack)
- 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a pot of water and sea salt to boiling. Add orzo and cook for 5 minutes. Add broccoli cuts and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes until orzo is tender.
- Drain thoroughly.
- To the now empty pot, add butter and heavy cream. When butter is melted, add cheeses and orzo/broccoli mixture and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste and additional cream (or milk) if necessary.
I found this alfredo recipe from My Simple Blessed Life and was intrigued by the use of cream cheese; I’ve never seen that before so I had to give it a shot (I added a little nutmeg too). It was great; thick and creamy, as it should be! I will say that it didn’t taste like a traditional alfredo, but a perfectly wonderful cream sauce. I served the sauce over spaghetti with homemade garlic breadsticks. It was incredibly easy to make and I will definitely make it again, I think as a base for a mushroom cream pasta dish! I cooked up some garlic and tomatoes and tossed it with the leftovers, which was fabulous as well.
Creamy Alfredo (serves 4)
- 4 oz. cream cheese
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- pinch of salt, pepper, and nutmeg
- Heat the cream cheese until it just begins to melt, then add the butter. Once the butter has melted, mix them up a little bit.
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix with a whisk.
- Allow mixture to boil for 2-3 minutes with constant stirring, then reduce heat to medium-low.
- Cook for 5-7, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat when it is slightly thinner than you’d like it to be; it will thicken up as it cools.
Okay, all I had was penne pasta but it’s basically the same thing, right? Easy and delicious; this dish can be whipped up in no time with very little work. I would usually use homemade tomato sauce, but a jar suffices after a long day! You can add some sauteed vegetables and garlic to give it a little kick.
- 1 jar tomato sauce
- 1 14 oz container ricotta cheese
- 1 box of pasta, I prefer penne but really any kind works
- 1-1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
- Cook pasta according to instructions on box.
- In a bowl combine pasta, ricotta, and tomato sauce. You can also just combine the pasta and ricotta and spread the sauce over the top – up to you!
- Pour in a baking dish and sprinkle with cheese.
- Bake at 350 until cheese begins to brown, 30-45 minutes.
I looove lasagna. My mom’s lasagna was always my favorite, so I took her recipe and put a little spin on it to give it a little more substance. It was delicious! This is the first time I used oven ready lasagna noodles, and I was pleasantly surprised at how normal they turned out! Like the package said, they did expand and fill the pan appropriately, and yes, they tasted like regular noodles. It was an especially big bonus that it cut out the step of boiling the noodles first because I always end up ripping half of them
Spinach & Mushroom Lasagna
- 1/4 tbsp. olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 8 0z containers of mushrooms, sliced
- 1 10 oz package of frozen spinach, thawed
- 5 cups tomato sauce
- 1 3/4 cups ricotta cheese
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated and divided
- 4 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- 12 oven ready lasagna noodles
- In a large saucepan, cook garlic in olive oil until it just begins to brown. Then add the mushrooms and cook for several minutes. When the mushrooms are just about tender, add the spinach and salt and pepper to taste. Add 3 cups of tomato sauce and cook everything until the vegetables and tender.
- In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, 1/4 cup parmesan, basil, oregano, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
- To begin assembly, spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 pan (3/4 – 1 cup). Place three lasagna noodles crosswise in the pan; they will expand as it cooks so spread them out evenly across the length of the pan. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the noodles, top with 1/3 of the vegetable mixture, and 1 cup mozzarella. Repeat the layering two more times, starting with another layer of noodles and ending with a layer of noodles on top for a total of three layers.
- On top of the last layer of noodles, spread the remaining cup or so of tomato sauce and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
- Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15-20 minutes until cheese is completely melted and begins to brown.
Note: You can also freeze this for up to two months, just cover with saran wrap and then a layer of foil (without baking) and pop it in the freezer. Be sure to thaw completely before you do bake it.
This was such an easy dish to prepare and tasted awesome – great for a rushed lunch or dinner! My nieces and husband loved it, and I was definitely impressed with how good it tasted. You could even make the Italian dressing mix yourself with a copycat recipe (there’s one here). I found the recipe on pinterest, but the link had been removed; fortunately the caption had all of the instructions. I didn’t have heavy cream on hand, so I upped the butter and used milk instead (the recipe called for 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup cream).
Creamy Italian Pasta
- 1 box of farfalle pasta
- 3/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 packet Italian Dressing mix
- Cook pasta following the directions on the package and drain.
- Add the butter to the pot and let it melt, then return the pasta to the pot.
- Add the milk, parmesan, and seasoning packet and mix well.
- Serve as soon as you can while it is still warm and creamy – if its going to sit on the stove for a while, you might want to add a few extra tablespoons of milk.
Zucchini is one of my favorite parts of summer. Delicious. This dish is light, simple, and you can make as little as one serving or enough to feed the family.
Zucchini Feta Pasta
- 2 servings of pasta
- 1/4 cup Feta
- 1/4 cup zucchini, sliced
- 1-2 tbs olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic, diced
- 2 tbs parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oil in a pan, add garlic and saute until it begins to brown.
- Add zucchini and continue to saute on low-med heat until tender.
- Add salt and pepper, followed by the pasta. I always add the cheese last or it might end up a sticky mess, so add the feta and toss in the pasta. Sprinkle parmesan over the top.