Asparagus Stuffed Pasta with Fig Hazelnut Sauce
I don't know if you've noticed but I tend to prepare healthy meals fairly often. This is my husband Lulu's request and it was his New Year's resolution to change his eating habits. He's lost 25 pounds so far and he's trying to get back to his pre-marriage weight.
Yesterday, I boiled manicotti-like pasta (big pennoni rigati) and stuffed them with a mixture of yuba (tofu skin), green asparagus spears, yellow onions and curly parsley. After completing the vegan filling, I realized I needed a binder to be able to stuff the mixture into the cylinder-shaped pasta .
While the pasta was boiling, baby Aria and I stepped outside and randomly harvested a few ripe figs in the garden. That's when I decided to prepare a sauce for this dish made of fresh figs, hazelnuts, tomato paste and roasted red bell peppers. The texture came out exactly as wonderfully as I had anticipated it would. Sometimes, improvisation ends up with beautiful results!
Yields: 6 servings1 (8-ounce) package big pennoni rigati, boiled
1 (12-ounce) package fresh spicy yuba strips, coarsely chopped
½ cup olive oil
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
6 fresh figs, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 (4.5-ounce) tube tomato paste
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
4 ounces hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
2 (12-ounce) bunches green asparagus spears, cut into thirds
5 ounces goat ricotta cheese (or your favorite cheese), optional
2 roasted red bell peppers, stemmed and cut into strips
1 teaspoon orange blossom honey
1 (8-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
6 tablespoons curly parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked
Prepping the asparagus rigatoni filling:
In a medium-sized pan, heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the yellow onions and cook for about 6-8 minutes until soft and nicely golden. Add the asparagus. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the yuba and roasted diced tomatoes. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add 2 tablespoons parsley and mix until evenly distributed. Let cool a bit so it's easy to handle. Remove the filling and set aside.
Making the fig hazelnut sauce:
Reserve a few fresh figs for garnish.
Heat the same pan and add garlic. Add the fresh figs and tomato paste. Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer to a mini-blender (or a regular one if you don't have one). Add the goat ricotta cheese, hazelnuts, roasted bell peppers and honey. Blend until smooth, then slowly add the rest of the olive oil.
Adjust seasoning. Add more salt if necessary.
On a large serving platter sprayed with oil (for easy clean up), spread a layer of fig hazelnut sauce first.
Add 3 tablespoons of the same sauce to the asparagus filling. Mix well.
Stuff the rigatoni shells with the asparagus mixture and place the stuffed shells onto the platter. Spread more fig hazelnut sauce over the rigatoni shells. It should cover the center of the pasta for the entire tray. Cover with sliced figs and sprinkle on the rest of parsley.
If you're a pasta lover, check out my other pasta dishes.
You can find fresh yuba (tofu skin or bean curd skin) in the fresh food aisle of any Asian markets in the Bay Area of California and now it's available at Costco. You could make the same dish using frozen or rehydrated yuba if fresh isn't available.
Little reminder on how to roast the bell peppers: Stem and wash the bell pepper and pat dry. Place a grill on your stove and char the skin of the pepper. Wrap in aluminum foil. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes until you can handle it without discomfort. Clean the pepper using a knife; the skin will come right off. Seed it and cut the flesh into large chunks.
Published By: on August 27, 2014.