Asparagus Rigatoni al Forno.

One of my all time favourite recipes today! I cook it all the time, whether I'm at home cooking for my family or in Glasgow, cooking for friends, my boyfriend or even just me. It's healthy, delicious and it combines several of my favourite flavours to make this gorgeous vegetarian pasta dish; Asparagus Rigatoni al Forno. Al forno simply means oven baked.

This recipe is from one of my mum's many vegetarian cookbooks (yes, her collection is non-exhaustive) - Mollie Katzen's 'Vegetable Heaven', but it's one of those recipes I know completely off by heart.
With an impressive name and taste, it is very easy to make and a great dish to cook and then live off of for the next few days.

Here are the ingredients - to serve 4 - 5 people (although I normally make the same when cooking for me and my boyfriend, and the leftovers make an excellent lazy lunch the next day)

  • 3 - 4 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 small onions, chopped into large chunks
  • Around 400 - 500g of asparagus, chopped into two inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 350g of pasta, rigatoni or penne is best, and to be healthier opt for wholegrain. 
  • 3 - 4 tbsp of balsamic vinegar 
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 70 grams of parmesan cheese, grated (plus a bit extra for the top)
  • 70 grams of bread crumbs
  • Extra balsamic vinegar for drizzling (optional) 
  1. Preheat your oven to 190 degrees C, and put a large pot of water on the hob to boil for the pasta.
  2. Pour the oil into a 9 x 13inch baking dish, glass is best. Scatter the onion in with your hands, then stir so it is coated in the oil. Place the uncovered dish in the oven and roast for 5 minutes. 
  3. When your water is boiling rapidly, add your pasta and cook whilst you continue to roast the vegetables.
  4. After the onions have been roasting for 5 mins, stir in the asparagus and sprinkle with the salt. Spread everything into a single layer and return to the oven to roast for another 5 mins.
  5. When the pasta is al-dente (has a bit of a bite to it still), drain and stir into the dish of vegetables. Add the vinegar, black pepper and parmesan and mix well. Sprinkle over the bread crumbs and a little more parmesan and return the pan to the oven. 
  6. Bake uncovered for 10-15 mins, or until the bread crumbs are golden brown and crisp. Serve hot, with extra parmesan and balsamic vinegar if you desire!
This is honestly one of the easiest dishes I rely on when I want to cook up something tasty that will be a winner with friends. It's fresh and delicious at any time of year, although best when asparagus is in season. 

On another note, look how good my lunch looks today! I have discovered the cheeky bliss of egg poaching cups, which I definitely need to get ahold of for myself. So yummy, and it feels like your eating something that took way more time and effort, at the hands of a competent chef, then it really did in a little pan at home. 
I served mine on a toasted roll, spread with some grainy mustard and butter, with spinach leaves and bacon underneath. YUM. I think even if you didn't like eggs you would like poached eggs, obviously I wouldn't know, but how could you not?! 

Fashion wise, I am in a dilemma today. Packing to return to Glasgow tomorrow and I am sorely tempted to sneak my mum's new Docs into my bag. We just happen to share the same shoe size. I am currently "breaking them in" for her... A convenient way to subtly give me a gift? Perhaps. Thanks Mum! 
And here is a picture of a happy tiny onion I found, enjoy!


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