Monday, April 5, 2010

Whole Wheat Pasta with Asparagus and Turkey Sausage: A Recipe for Baseball Season

Today on Serious Eats: Buttermilk Corn Muffins, a basic, healthy muffin recipe you can customize just about any way you like. Aces.

Yesterday was Major League Baseball’s Opening Day. For millions, it was celebrated with beer can poppings and resounding whoops of great joy, for the event not only heralded 2,429 games to come, but the very arrival of spring itself.

Fortunately, I was distracted by eggplant parmesan, jellybeans, and other bunny-related items. There was no time to acknowledge Opening Day, which was fortuitous. Otherwise, I may have been subjected to the same tornado of emotions that arises every baseball season: cautious optimism darkened by an overarching sense of impending doom.

You see, I am a Mets fan.

Yes, Cubs fans have had it harder, and it was no picnic rooting for Boston up until 2004. And I should probably shut up about a big market team making over 40 bajillion dollars per annum. And David Wright is really cute.

But you gotta understand: being a Mets fan doesn’t mean decades of oppression. It means dreams, deferred. It means wild hopes, crushed at the last possible second. It means rooting for the underdog, only to have that beloved pet contract untreatable canine syphilis 20 seconds after it qualifies for Westminster. It’s …

…leading your division by seven games with two weeks left, going 5-12, and being eliminated from the playoffs on the final day of the season.

…doing it again the following year. (WHAT ARE THE ODDS, PEOPLE?)

…knowing you have a fantastic team on April 5th, having them all on the DL by May 18th, and not recognizing anyone by the All-Star break.

…depending on late inning reliever Armando *freaking* Benitez, who, during the late ‘90s, reached levels of choke never before seen in nature.

(Sometimes, when I’m walking home from the subway at night, I’ll stop mid-block, raise my fist to the sky and shout, “BENITEZ!” at the heavens. It makes me feel better, and the local crackheads are afraid to go near the crazy person.)

Fortunately, it IS spring, and a cornucopia of blossoming green vegetables makes up for the pain. Foremost among those is asparagus, which I tend to buy weekly through April and May. By the time peak season is over, we’re happy to wave it goodbye for nine or ten months.

Until then, we pack it into almost every dinner, like Whole Wheat Pasta with Asparagus and Turkey Sausage. The recipe highlights the fresh, crisp springiness of the vegetable, which plays beautifully off the nutty pasta. Tomatoes round it out, and the late addition of parmesan makes everything feel a little richer. Also? 30 minutes to make. Maybe less. Bonus!

So, this baseball season, when you're trying to console your favorite Mets fan, offer her a plate of this. It'll make her very, very happy, if only until September.

If you like this recipe, you might also quite enjoy:

Whole Wheat Pasta with Asparagus and Turkey Sausage
Serves 3 or 4.
Adapted from My Kitchen Snippets.

8 ounces whole wheat rotini or penne
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
10 ounces (3 links) sweet Italian turkey sausage, removed from casing
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound thin asparagus, ends snapped off, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan

1) Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving a little pasta water. Set aside.

2) In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add turkey sausage and brown, 5 to 8 minutes, breaking it up into bite-sized pieces as you go along. Spoon meat on to a plate and set aside.

3) Add remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil to skillet. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook 30 to 60 seconds, until fragrant, stirring frequently.

4) Add asparagus and cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5) Pour in tomatoes and cooked sausage. Heat through, 1 or 2 minutes. Kill heat. Salt and pepper to taste.

6) Add pasta and stir to combine. If a little dry, add some reserved pasta water.

7) Spoon pasta into bowls, sprinkle 1 or 2 tablespoons parmesan over each.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price Per Serving
3 servings: 591 calories, 20 g fat, 8.7 g fiber, $2.15
4 servings: 443 calories, 15 g fat, 6.5 g fiber, $1.61

8 ounces whole wheat pasta: 793 calories, 3.2 g fat, 18.9 g fiber, $0.50
4 teaspoons olive oil: 158 calories, 17.9 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.16
10 ounces sweet Italian turkey sausage: 420 calories, 24 g fat, 0 g fiber, $1.45
3 large cloves garlic, minced: 13 calories, 0 g fat, 0.2 g fiber, $0.02
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.15
1 pound thin asparagus: 91 calories, 0.5 g fat, 0.5 g fiber, $1.99
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained: 82 calories, 0 g fat, 6.5 g fiber, $0.75
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.02
1/2 cup grated parmesan: 216 calories, 14.3 g fat, 0 g fiber, $1.40
TOTAL: 1773 calories, 59.9 g fat, 26.1 g fiber, $6.44
PER SERVING (TOTAL/3): 591 calories, 20 g fat, 8.7 g fiber, $2.15
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 443 calories, 15 g fat, 6.5 g fiber, $1.61

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