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The snow is finally all gone in Halifax.  I saw crocuses in bloom today, a sure sign spring is coming.  There is nothing like pesto and asparagus to mark one’s excitement for spring!  (I confess that unlike Sitelle, I have given into the gorgeous looking and tasting asparagus from Mexico).  Pesto pasta is one of my absolutely favorite meals, and one can always count on roasted vegetables to brighten any pasta.  When produce is plentiful, grilling the veggies over the barbecue adds another level of complexity to the dish, but until summer hits, the oven does a respectable job.

This is another dish that uses, as my mother likes to call it, “the little white sauce”.  Like its namesake, this simple béchamel is the perfect versatile base for so many dishes: Add a few cups of cheddar for macaroni and cheese, mustard to make it devilish, or mushrooms and sherry for a delicious mushroom sauce.  Usually I have a few cubes of frozen pesto that I throw into the little white sauce, but tonight I used fresh – a delicate almond romano parsley pesto!

Pesto Pasta with Caremelized Onions, Roasted Asparagus, and Zucchini

(4 servings)

Ingredients:

Roasted Vegetables:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 zucchini, sliced

1 red onion, sliced

1 bunch asparagus, bottom part of stalk snapped off, cut into 2 inch segments

2 tomatoes, cut into eight wedges

Pesto Pasta:

300 grams whole wheat penne pasta

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 generous cup milk

Salt and Pepper

¼ cup pesto (https://gourmeh.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/almond-romano-parsley-pesto/)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Toss the veggies in the olive oil and garlic, and place on a tray.  Roast for 20 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, boil salted water, cook until al dente, and drain the pasta.  In a large saucepan, melt the butter and flour over medium heat.  Allow the roux to bubble for a few minutes, until almost fragrant.  Whisk in the milk and bring the sauce to a boil.  Simmer for two or three minutes, or until thickened.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the pesto, followed by the roast veggies and pasta.  Toss until the pesto sauce evenly coats the pasta.  Enjoy!

–       Catherine

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