Monday, May 16, 2011

Garlic Lemon Asparagus Spaghetti (vegan)

I made it to the farmer's market this weekend and was excited to see the first of spring's bounty. Asparagus and rhubarb are my favorites in May! So, of course I bought enough to enjoy for the next week, and decided on a making a little 'rachael ray' style pasta dish with my fresh ingredients.

All of the main ingredients to this dish are so good for you this time of year. Because as your body cleanses from the winter month's buildup and gets ready for the warmth and sun of summer, you need a good detox kick. Here is my ingredient list with a few notes on why this foods are so good for you:

Garlic: Once known as the wonder-drug because of it's healing properties to help with the common cold and sicknesses. It helps build up your immune system with it's high antioxidant qualities and also kicks the butt of free radicals in your body. So, in the fight for better health, you want garlic on your side for sure!
Lemon: Is a high-alkaline nutrient that will cleanse your cells so that you can contain more oxygen in your cells and body as a whole. It is anti-cancer fighting because it allows your cells to stop bad cell division which leads to more free-radicals and cancer cells in the body. Lemon will help balance your digestive tract and bring more light to your life. I mean just look at them, it's like sunshine gave birth to a citrus fruit :) So bright and cheery!
Asparagus: Packed full of folate, vitamins and even calcium. It's antioxidant and phytonutrient components will help against inflammation that could cause a defect in motor skills and in your cells. It is said to help in digestive ailments because of it's ability to clean and build up your body to reduce the risks of heart disease, bad cholesterol and cancer. Pretty much if you are looking for a solid vegetable to add to your diet, especially in spring, you need to get some asparagus...oh how convenient that it is in season, eh! P.S. Isn't it pretty too!!! :)
Kale: Kale is said to be one of the healthiest vegetables available. So, it is a #1 pick for detoxing and cleansing the body. Most recommend slightly cooking, steaming or sauteing it to get the most health benefits out of it. This is because it allows the fiber-related content to bind with the bile in your body- which allows it to secrete the bad cells and cholesterol from building up. So basically this cruciferous veggie will find the yucky in your body and carry it on out. So Kale is your detox best friend. Did I mention- a ginormous amount of vitamins and antioxidants as well.... pure goodness.

Parsley: This herb is said to be the world's most famous herb and garnish, but it is so much more powerful that even that. It contains vital flavinoids and oils that can neutralize carcinogens and can actually stop the growth of tumors. Therefore, is a HUGE cancer and free radical fighter. And in some places is in the world is considered a super-food that is more medicinal than garnish. Fresh parsley is always best and contains the highest quantity of vitamins.

Brown Rice: Brown rice is a staple, not only to the gluten free diet, but really to the world. In some parts of the world, languages translate "to eat" as "to eat rice"... it really is that popular. Not to mention, full of whole grain goodness and high levels of magnesium and iron to strengthen and balance your body. Don't waste yourself on white rice ever again- eat brown rice to gain the true benefits of this powerful and helpful grain.

So, If I have not convinced you already from some of the great detox-rockstar ingredients in this dish, let me just say that this dish is simply beautiful. Beautiful to the eyes and nose. Just look at that pretty asparagus and kale. But then the aroma of lemon, garlic and parsley will have you either crying or drooling. And, with the simplicity of mixing vegetables, garlic and lemon and pasta is so pure and simple that it will have you feeling like a real gourmet chef. So, let's get to the recipe, shall we?

Garlic Lemon Asparagus Spaghetti (vegan):
1 pound of freshly snapped asparagus
8 ounces (about 2 cups) of chopped raw kale (curly or lactino both work)
3-4 grated, diced or minced garlic cloves
1 organic lemon (use for juice and zest)
1/4- 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup of fresh chopped parsley
1 12 or 16 ounce of brown rice pasta (Tinkyada GF pasta is my FAVORITE)

To get the best flavor and freshness out of this dish here is the process I followed to make this great recipe:

1.) Soak, wash and slice your asparagus into little saucer-circles. About 1/2 inch thick is best. Then steam or boil the little asparagus pieces for about 5 minutes until they are soft and bright green. Then drain and set aside ready to add to the following saute...

2.)Start boiling water for your pasta. Then start sauteing the grated fresh garlic in the olive oil in a large saute pan. Just cook the garlic enough to start smelling it and do not burn. Then put in the finely chopped fresh kale (about 2 cups) and then you will have the oil, garlic and kale cooking. Zest one lemon and save the zest for the end, and then add the juice of one lemon to the sauteing garlic and kale.

3.) Then add your spaghetti pasta (or other pasta shapes work too) to the boiling water, and let cook until al dente- ready for eating. Then in the meantime, add the steamed asparagus pieces to the sauteing kale and garlic. Let cook for 1-2 more minutes, but you should end up with a kale, asparagus, garlic, lemon sauce that is covered with olive oil. Set aside until pasta is done.

4.) When pasta is cooked, either add to the large saute pan of veggies and oil, or get a big serving fish to add the pasta and veggies together and stir. Stir the veggies and pasta together to get a good blend of the asparagus and kale throughout the pasta. Make sure you drizzle a little extra olive oil if you need it to finish it off, and top with fresh parsley and the lemon zest.
5.) The lemon and parsley will add the final touches of flavor, if you need to add some sea salt and black pepper to your taste, then go for it, and if you eat dairy or are not on a detox, then I bet some parmesan or goat cheese would be a great topping as well.

6.) Serve warm and fresh. A side salad could be a nice touch, but really this dish will speak for itself with a balance of flavors and veggies and grain. It is a great one-plate dish. If you have leftovers I suggest you either eat them warmed or even pour some hot marinara sauce over the cold noodles to have better tasting leftovers (sometimes the cold brown rice noodles are not so great the second day) But the hot sauce will soak into the noodles and you may have better results.
7.) Now, lastly, ENJOY! This could be a great detox meal and is just perfect this time of year because you can get the best fresh asparagus around (especially if you live in Michigan) and the fresh, clean taste is just something I know your body is craving!

Well, friends, I hope you enjoy this simple dish. And enjoy this spring season. It is so amazing to plant a garden and also to start to get fresh local produce again. That alone must bring special goodness to any spring detox...maybe there is hidden vitamins in that too. :)

Many blessings, and much love to you today! Happy Monday!

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