Smart nutrition choices: Asparagus Pasta Salad

By Tanya Davis | Published Wednesday, November 23, 2011

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While we’re overfed, we’re undernourished, and new research shows that many Americans are not meeting their average daily needs for key nutrients.

The solution is to eat nutrient-rich foods, like high-quality lean protein to provide you with the essential vitamins and minerals you need to fuel a healthy lifestyle. The new definition of healthy eating is not just about counting calories, but making your calories count more.

Eating nutrient-rich foods satisfies the body, helping you feel full longer, while providing much needed nutrients.

Over the next several weeks I will focus on bringing you examples of how seven Wise County 4-Hers learned through their Foods and Nutrition projects to make their calories count more by including nutrient-rich foods in their diets. These 4-Hers received first place honors in the District 4-H Food Show held recently in Vernon.

The first focus is on Logan Moore, a Boyd 4-Her, with his Asparagus Pasta Salad recipe. Consuming pasta is a great choice because it is rich in complex carbohydrates and low in fat. The recipe also includes the vitamin-packed vegetables, asparagus and peas.


  • 1 small shallot or 1/2 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 pound asparagus, thin spears
  • 1/2 pound bow tie pasta
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 endive, cored and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Begin by heating shallot and oil in a small pan on the stovetop over medium low heat for 5 minutes. Allow oil to cool back to room temperature. Set aside.

Heat a large saucepot of salted water to boiling on high. Cook the pasta until it is al dente or firm to the bite according to the package directions. Set aside.

Next, hold a spear of asparagus at each end and snap it. The spear breaks where the tender tops meet the tough bottoms. Line the broken spear up with the bundle of cleaned asparagus. Cut the spears using the guideline of the snapped spear.

Par boil the asparagus tops in 1 inch simmering water covered for 3 to 5 minutes. Cool under cold running water and drain.

Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces on an angle and add to a bowl. Combine chopped, cooked asparagus with shredded endive, red bell pepper, cooked pasta, green peas and chopped parsley. The peas will defrost as you toss salad.

Pour vinegar into a small bowl and whisk in cooled shallot oil. Pour dressing over salad and toss. Season salad with salt and pepper, to your taste and toss again.

Number of servings: 4

Congratulations, Logan!

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