Wednesday, 5 November 2008

PPN #88 Roasted Asparagus, Tomato and Caper Pasta

When searching for recipes for my recent post about asparagus I came across Sexy Spring Pasta at Karina's Kitchen: Recipes from a Gluten Free Goddess. Amazingly, I had the ingredients … and more! It intrigued me as something a bit different to the usual pasta dishes I have tried. When I said this to E, he commented that there is nothing wrong with the usual!

I loved this green and vinegary dish but I am sorry to report E was a tad lukewarm about it. He thought the asparagus should have been cooked a bit more but I liked it with a little crispness.

Both of us, however, were interested in the capers. Yes, those funny little bitter pellets in a vinegary solution in a tall thin jar at the back of the fridge which are rarely touched. I gave E a taste. He asked what they were and I didn’t really know. Capers! But what are capers?

According to Wikipedia, capers are the buds of a perennial spiny shrub that is native to the Mediterranean region. They were used by the Ancient Greeks and Romans for medicinal purposes to protect against rheumatism and to treat strangury (bladder problems) and inflammation. Capers are mentioned in the Bible and are common ingredients in Mediterranean cooking. In fact they are used in salads, pizzas and pasta sauces. So it was new to us, but not so unusual after all to put capers in a pasta sauce.

Karina simply used asparagus and tomato in her pasta. I added some spring onion and silverbeet (chard) that I had in the fridge needing to be used. But I did follow her advice to add sultanas (raisins) which seemed counter-intuitive but they worked. The quantities of vegetables are quite flexible and I am sure other quick cooking vegetables could be used. Apologies that my recipe is not quite as voluptuous as Karina's because it is not really my way - but do check out her charming style! And you could try gluten free pasta which worked for her but I am not game after my attempt with mung bean pasta.

I’d recommend this as an easy Sunday night dinner. Or any night you want a simple pasta dish. So I am sending it to Ruth of Once Upon a Feast for this week’s Presto Pasta Nights.

Roasted Asparagus, Tomato and Caper Sauce
(adapted from Karina)
Serves 2

Pasta for two people
A small bunch of asparagus, trimmed and chopped
150-250g cherry tomatoes, halved (or larger tomatoes, chopped)
2 spring onions, finely chopped
3-4 silverbeet (chard) leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon chilli paste
2-4 good sized cloves of garlic, chopped
1 heaped tablespoon capers
2 tablespoons sultanas (raisins)
4 tablespoons fruity extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
fresh basil torn (or 1 teaspoon dried basil)
parmesan cheese shavings to serve (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F). Prepare vegetables and toss with remaining ingredients (except pasta and parmesan). Roast in oven for about 10-15 minutes. Check asparagus and silverbeet is not overdone while cooking.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente.

Serve pasta mixed or topped with sauce. Top with parmesan shavings, if desired. (Or toasted pine nuts for a vegan alternative.)

On the stereo:
Faraway places [exotica compilation] – Various Artists


  1. That sounds and looks really delicious and I love the addition of capers, although I think I may miss out the raisins, they are a step too far for me!

  2. Thanks Holler - I would recommend you try the sultanas - they are not that obvious in the pasta sauce but I think they add a little sweetness to balance the bitter vinegary flavours. Not the sort of thing I would usually put in pasta sauce (nor is capers)

  3. Sounds wonderful--I love pasta with capers (but not dates!). ;) Too bad that E wasn't a fan; there seems to be a fine line between asparagus that's "just right" and "raw"!

  4. Sounds really tasty and versatile! We're big fans of capers and put them in lots of our tomato sauces. I didn't know what they were for ages either though!

  5. thanks Ricki - it is unfortunate that E doesn't feel the same way as me about asparagus - I can eat it raw if thin so it doesn't need much cooking for me - but at least it is only seasonal!

    thanks Lysy - I should try and use up my capers in some tomato pasta sauces - am sure it would be taste interesting

  6. What a lovely and intriguing combo. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

  7. Oh I adore capers and especialyl in pasta. If you don't use them that often, there is a whole world of caper fun to be discovered! Apparently, the ones packed in salt are better (although you have to rinse them really well). The bigger ones with stalks on (caperberries) are really delish though, my favourites!

  8. Christa Richardson21 April 2011 at 04:51

    It looks like there is spinach or kale in the picture. Love both, wonder if the kale bitter element would be too much? (Making this tonight, hoping you see this soon!

  9. Ooops, now I read the post about the pictured dish! I was thinking some shallot or leek and spinach.


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