This wholesome vegan recipe is simple to prepare and full of good for you things like vitamin rich asparagus and those little veggie powerhouses lentils – it’s a perfect dish for a healthy meat-free weekday meal.
The avocado is used here as a kind of substitute to the creamy taste and texture of cheese, which most people enjoy in pasta. It works beautifully. If you eat dairy a little vegetarian goats cheese could be a nice addition. If using young asparagus keep them whole and look for an avocado that’s not over ripe, so as to hold it’s texture when tossed through the pasta.
I love the earthy greens and browns of this dish and the combination of healthy ingredients. Spelt pasta is readily available in most supermarkets now – or try wholemeal pasta instead. Delicious served warm as a hearty bowl of pasta, this vegetarian recipe also works great as a cold pasta salad – good for a healthy addition to your lunchbox.
WHAT YOU NEED
- ½ cup puy (French) lentils, rinsed
- 250g (9oz) spelt pasta
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 2 tbs + olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 320g (11oz) asparagus
- 1 tbs sunflower or rice bran oil
- ¾ cup baby peas (fresh or frozen)
- 1 avocado
- 1-2 lemons (un-waxed), zest + juice
- small bunch of fresh sage, finely chopped
WHAT TO DO
- Place the rinsed lentils into a saucepan with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and gently simmer, covered for 20-25 minutes until the lentils are just tender (al dente). Strain off any excess liquid and set aside.
- Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Strain and return to the pot you cooked it in, tossing through a little olive oil and replacing the lid to keep warm.
- Meanwhile, remove the woody ends from the asparagus and slice lengthways and then in halves. Toss the asparagus with the crushed garlic about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and a good crack of pepper and pinch of salt flakes. Set aside.
- Halve the avocado, remove the seed and scoop the flesh out with a dessertspoon. Slice each side in half lengthways and then dice into cubes. Squeeze over the juice of half a lemon and set aside.
- Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Dry roast the pine nuts tossing them in the pan frequently for a few minutes until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add the sunflower or rice bran oil to the same pan. Fry the asparagus and garlic over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the asparagus just starts to golden.
- Increase the heat a little, add the prepared lentils and the baby peas. Toss over a medium/high heat for an extra minute or two until everything just starts to stick.
- Add the prepared pasta, pine nuts, sage and the zest of 1 lemon. Toss over the heat adding more olive oil, salt flakes and pepper to taste. Once well combined and heated through remove from the heat and gently toss through the diced avocado.
- Serve scattered with extra lemon zest and few torn sage leaves. Great hot or cold this is a super simple yet deliciously healthy vegetarian meal. Enjoy…