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Pesto Pasta Salad with Asparagus and Goat Cheese

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Penne pasta is tossed with roasted asparagus, fragrant pesto and creamy goat cheese to create this easy, crowd-pleasing pasta salad recipe.

Pasta salads are one of my favorite make-ahead dishes to prep and stash in the fridge for when I need it. Whether it’s a busy weeknight side dish or a quick lunch, having a veggie-packed pasta salad on hand is always a good idea.

Right now asparagus is in season so it’s affordable, readily available and packed with nutrients. Of course, if you can’t find asparagus feel free to swap out with any vegetables you have on hand. Great alternatives would be green beans, peas, red peppers, zucchini or corn.

While I often work with fresh, raw veggies to pasta or grain salads (such as my Brown Rice Greek Salad), I also love roasting veggies for even more flavor.

What’s the best way to roast asparagus?

Simply toss the asparagus, either whole or cut in bite-sized pieces, in a resealable plastic bag or a large bowl then drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss well to coat evenly then scatter in a single layer on baking sheet. Cleaning Tip: Line the sheet with foil for easy cleanup but spray with cooking spray before adding the veggies.

In about 10-15 minutes the asparagus will caramelize in the oven as it roasts becoming sweet and tender.

While the asparagus is roasting, toss the pasta together with basil pesto. Every summer I make a big batch of homemade pesto and stash it in the freezer but store-bought is fine too!

How do you freeze pesto?

Check out my guide on How to Make and Freeze Basil Pesto for step-by-step instructions.

Once you’ve roasted the asparagus, toss it with the pasta, pesto and lemon juice. I like to do this when the pasta and asparagus are warm so that it slightly “melts” the pesto. If it’s a little too thick, toss in a little of the reserved cooking liquid.

Fresh herbs are always a good idea when creating a pasta salad. Basil, dill or parsley are all great options for this pesto pasta salad but if you don’t have them on hand, no worries.

Lastly, I like to crumble in a little creamy goat cheese on to before serving. Feta would also work well as would large shavings of parmesan cheese.

How long will this pasta salad stay fresh?

This pasta salad can be served warm, room temperature or chilled. If you decide to refrigerate it the pasta salad will stay good for up to 5 days.

What should I serve with this pesto pasta salad?

I like to serve this pasta salad with grilled chicken, broiled salmon or roasted pork tenderloin. It would be great with any protein, really. Alternatively, to keep it vegetarian, I will serve over arugula and toss in white beans for added protein.

Your fork is waiting.

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Pesto Pasta with Asparagus and Goat Cheese

Penne pasta is tossed with roasted asparagus, fragrant pesto and creamy goat cheese to create this easy, crowd-pleasing pasta salad recipe.

Course Pasta, Side, Side Dish
Keyword pasta, pasta salad, pasta salad with asparagus

Ingredients

  • 1 pound penne pasta (or short cut pasta of choice)
  • 1 bunch asparagus (trimmed)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs (such as parsley, basil or dill) (minced)

Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss asparagus with olive oil plus a sprinkle of salt and pepper then spread in even layer on baking sheet. Roast until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Cut asparagus into 1-inch, bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl.

  • Cook pasta according to package instructions. Once cooked, place in bowl along with aspargus and toss with pesto, lemon juice, goat cheese and herbs. Serve warm, room temperature or chilled.

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Nutrition:

Serving: 0.75cup | Calories: 335kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 202mg | Potassium: 240mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 884IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 2mg

 



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Bakers and Gardeners Seek Guidance and Community Online

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Somewhere amid the polarization that’s playing itself out on social media — a critical and impossible-to-ignore schism between those privileged to ride out the coronavirus pandemic with from-home work and enriching activities, and vulnerable communities struggling for even the most basic of resources — there is an optimistic narrative. Fractured and isolated as Americans may be as we shelter in place, some of us are seeking, and finding, solace in each other, virtually. 

This has been especially evident in the masses of first-time bakers and gardeners taking to Instagram and Twitter. Yes, there’s been a backlash against perceived flour, yeast, and seed hoarders as those commodities continue to be difficult to procure after spikes in sales. But there’s also been a concurrent surge of goodwill as novices attempting to forge deeper relationships with their co-shut-ins and whatever bits of nature they can access, reach out to each other online.

“We’re becoming more capable with technology, we are finding new ways to connect with our neighbors, and all of this can be a way in which we can make sense of this pandemic,” says Roxane Cohen Silver, a psychology professor at the University of California, Irvine. And it’s working to the benefit of those on both sides of the equation: the ones who need guidance, and the ones who have it to offer.

Help for New Bakers

Some Internet denizens have sought help from professional chefs. A recent tweet from Nigella Lawson, for example, suggested using leftover potato-boiling water to incorporate into bread dough for better texture and rise, and got over 6,000 retweets and more than 52,000 likes. Other would-be bakers have turned to less-vaunted sources, like Oklahoma City resident Matthew Broberg-Moffitt, a business writer and former counselor who once trained as a chef. 

Just as COVID-19 began driving Americans indoors, Broberg-Moffitt offered to answer “simple baking questions” for his 6,000-plus Twitter followers. He got dozens of requests: for gluten-free cookie recipes, suggestions for alternatives to scarce yeast, advice on what to do when the dough doesn’t rise, an explanation of the difference between whole wheat and white flours, and tips for making bread turn out less dense.

“I believe there’s some kind of collective consciousness that’s looking to fulfill an unmet need, and many people associate that with baking,” Broberg-Moffitt says. “I’m really amazed at how many people are trying it.”

Demystifying Bread Baking

One of those people is Shannon Hall, a stay-at-home mom of three in Cincinnati who says she’s always been fascinated but intimidated by the number of steps it takes to produce a loaf of bread. But when schools closed, she says she “longed for a bit of comfort for myself and my children,” and decided to take Broberg-Moffitt up on his offer. 

“He gave me a simple bread recipe to follow” from King Arthur Flour, Hall says, one that the company claims is the “easiest loaf of bread you’ll ever bake.” She read and re-read the directions, checked back in with Broberg-Moffitt several times for moral and practical support, then “followed the recipe diligently.” When it didn’t turn out the way she’d hoped, she vowed never to bake again. She’s since reconsidered, though. She’s waiting for a rolling pin she ordered to arrive in the mail and gearing up to try a simpler baking task: homemade biscuits, the thought of which, she says, “makes me smile.”

Broberg-Moffitt, too, derives happiness from his exchanges with Hall and other bakers he’s coached, many of whom follow up with him after their initial efforts to show him what they’ve accomplished on their own. “I know people enjoy getting a personal response rather than Googling a question,” he says, but “I also enjoy trying to be a positive, encouraging presence. I’m a caregiver, so my needs are being met when I can fulfill that role.”

Where does he turn when he’s the one needing inspiration? The King Arthur Flour website, Divas Can Cook, and Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Pizzas and Pitas

Ehab Bander, a tech designer in San Francisco, has taken baking classes a couple of times but put off testing his new-found knowledge, in part because baking still seemed like “a bit of a mystery: If you do one step wrong you’ll mess it up. I definitely had fear,” he says. When coronavirus led to the closing of local bakeries and forced him, his wife and their twin 8-year-old daughters to stay home, he found “the flour in the pantry was just staring at me.” 

Rather than simply staring back, Bander put the flour to use, making pizza dough. “It was a great way to share something with my kids, and we didn’t have to [go out] at a time when we need to be hunkering down for safety,” he says. His impulse has been to turn to YouTube for guidance, which he’s been scouring for a pita recipe to spark memories of his childhood in Lebanon. And gearing up to whip up a sourdough starter for the first time (thanks to the national dearth of yeast), he’s thinking of signing up for an Instagram class to “make sure I don’t mess it up.”





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Der Tod des Empedokles/The Death of Empedocles (1987) – Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub

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The tragedy of the death of Empedocles, legislator in Ancient Greece.

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Nonprofit Teaches Seed Saving To Restore Farmers’ Food Sovereignty – Food Tank

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Global Seed Savers is working with smallholder farmers in the Philippines to restore food sovereignty. The international nonprofit provides farmers with resources and education to preserve the indigenous practice of seed saving. “We focus on sovereignty, not simply food security,” Sherry Manning, Founder and Executive Director of Global Seed Savers tells Food Tank.

According to Manning, sovereignty addresses a farmer’s right to decide how they cultivate their crops and with whom they conduct their business. “If food security is about the consumer, food sovereignty puts the focus on the [needs] of the producers,” Manning tells Food Tank.

Since 2015, the organization has conducted over 5,000 hours of training programs for more than 3,000 farmers on how to propagate, store, and sell regionally adapted seeds. Global Seed Savers has also established four community owned and operated seed libraries in the Province of Benguet, a region in the Northern Philippines. These libraries offer smallholder farmers access to a wide variety of locally produced, regionally adapted seeds.

“Seeds are the foundation of our food system,” Manning tells Food Tank. By saving seeds from the best crops season after season, farmers can build a diverse supply that is adapted to the environmental conditions of their region. Especially in the Philippines, it is vital that farmers strengthen their resilience to the impacts of severe weather and other natural disasters. The archipelago ranked first among 172 countries for climate change-related risk in the 2019 Global Peace Index.

In 2018, Typhoon Mangkhut tested Global Seed Savers’ model for improving farmers’ resilience to climate catastrophe. The destructive storm swept through the region with Category 5-level winds, 40-foot waves, and torrential rain. Although farmland across the Province of Benguet was severely impacted, seed saving helped many farming families recover quickly. “Thanks to our founding seed library, just days after the storm…our farmers were all able to access seeds and begin replanting right away,” Manning tells Food Tank. 

Reducing farmers’ dependence on multinational corporations for seeds is also imperative to the survival of indigenous crop varieties, according to Manning.  “Across the world, industrialized agriculture…[is] monopolizing the industry,” says Manning. With nearly one third of the Philippines’ total land area dedicated to cash crops, production of local staples falls short, according to a 2018 report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. 

For Manning, seed saving is as much about preserving farmers’ heritage as it is about their livelihoods. “We cannot separate culture and identity from the art, act, and love of growing food,” says Manning. “Seed Saving is an essential piece of this knowledge and in order to build a resilient food system in these ever-changing times we have to return to this indigenous wisdom.”

Manning says there is still much work ahead for the grassroots movement of seed saving. The nonprofit is now focusing on expanding seed saving education programs to the Province of Cebu in the Southern Philippines. “We are slowly, one farmer, and one community at a time, building our own collective future that is rooted in the land, in the soil, and in the seed.”

Photo courtesy of Sherry Manning, Founder and Executive Director of Global Seed Savers

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