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With summer quickly approaching and barbeque aromas in the air, I wanted to create a pasta salad that is light yet full of flavor and made with “freshly” picked vegetables and herbs.  I have oregano in my garden but hadn’t found a good use for it until I came across this recipe from allrecipes.com that calls for Italian seasoning.

With only extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice as the dressing, the oregano and thyme create an intensity for your senses that is balanced by the shaved asiago cheese.  (I know, I sound like such a foodie.  I am beginning to feel like one which I’m not sure is a blessing or a curse.)

For the vegetables I chose asparagus, heirloom tomatoes, and yellow peppers.  I try to find my inspiration while I’m at the store (usually Trader Joe’s) or a farmer’s market.  Engaging all the senses while finalizing your menu creates an openness to ingredients that you may never discover otherwise.

I love the purple tips of asparagus.  Who would expect to find such beautiful colors in an otherwise “green” vegetable?  It wasn’t until I started blogging that I noticed the unique aspects of food.

These mini heirloom tomatoes are very juicy and tasty.  I have an heirloom tomato plant in my garden and I can’t wait to see what color it produces.

I love the color and vivacity of yellow peppers.  Peppers have so much life and flavor in the skin.  I find that a pop of color in a salad not only appeals to the eyes but also the senses.

I tossed the vegetables in extra virgin olive oil and seasoned them with minced garlic and shallots.  I am on quite a shallot kick as you’ll see from my post roasted garlic & shallot portabella mushroom steaks.

Roast the vegetables at 400 deg. F for 15-20 min or until tender, removing the tomatoes when the skin starts to peel away.

I used Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Corn pasta.  Although it is very tasty, when stored in the fridge it got “crunchy.”  I found that if you add a bit more lemon juice and olive oil (the pasta will absorb it) and heat it in the microwave briefly the pasta becomes tender again.  It looks like I overdid it here with the herbs, but since they’re fresh they add a lot of flavor without overpowering.

You can never have too much cheese (as my roommates would testify) but you don’t need a lot if you are concerned with the calories.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (12 ounces) package Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Corn Pasta
  • 1 bundle of asparagus, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, seeds removed and sliced
  • 2 cups mini heirloom tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 3 Tbps extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 lemon, juice divided
  • 10-15 leaves basil, chopped
  • 3 stems of oregano leaves, leaves removed
  • 3 sprigs of thyme leaves, leaves removed
  • 1 cup shaved parmesan, romano & asiago cheeses
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 deg. F.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the asparagus, yellow pepper, tomatoes, garlic, and shallot with 2 Tbs olive oil and 1/2 juiced lemon.  Lightly season with salt and pepper.  Arrange vegetables on a baking sheet, and roast 15-20 minutes in the preheated oven, until tender. Check the tomatoes periodically and remove when the skin starts to peel.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook according to package instructions.  Corn pasta seems to require a longer cooking time.
  4. Drain the pasta and toss with roasted vegetables, 1 Tbsp olive oil, remaining lemon juice, and herbs.  Sprinkle with cheese to serve and season with salt and pepper to taste.
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