Week 42 – Garlic Butter Asparagus Pasta and Strawberry, Spinach & Cashew Salad

Ahhh such a perfect weekend!  Great weather, great company, and such a beautiful and refreshing time in our beautiful city!  I’m back to my between busy seasons trend of not working on Fridays so Friday I took the day to clean, go to a barre class, run some errands, and study a bit.  My parents drove down for the weekend and got here in the afternoon.  We went to Pasta Mia for dinner on Friday night, one of my absolute FAVORITES in DC.  If you go to DC and want Italian, look this place up.  Saturday was my mom’s birthday and we had a full day!  We went to Great Falls Park in the morning and hike through some of the trails.  The weather could not have been more perfect.  And it’s really just beautiful up there, we bought an annual pass to the park so we’ll definitely be going back several more times to get our money’s worth.  After the ark we took a break for lunch and then headed to Alexandria for the afternoon.  We picked up some Sugar Shack donuts and then headed into Old Town Alexandria for some window shopping and walking around.  For dinner we went to the Old Ebbitt and then walked around the monuments a bit, a very full, wonderful and tiring day!

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My parents headed back to NY Sunday morning and Matt and I headed to church.  I was with the preschoolers teaching Sunday School, always a fun time!  After church some friends came over and we had lunch on the balcony and then walked over to the tulips by the Netherlands Carillon in a nearby park, right by the Marine Corps Memorial.  A perfect day for a walk to the park, I can’t get enough of this weather!  Matt and I joined a wine club at a nearby wine store so we went to pick up our May bottles after our friends went home.  I’m excited to try different wines with this club, 2 specially picked bottles per month.

We made both of our new recipes tonight and boy are these keepers!  I modified the salad from the original recipe and really only followed the proportions when making the dressing, everything else I kind of just chopped up and threw in.  This was some good stuff.  Matt made the orzo while I studied, said it was really easy and that he added more parm than the recipe says so it’d be better (and it was quite perfect) Sat on the balcony and ate these with a glass of one of the wine club picks, such a nice evening to end a great weekend.  Life is great these days.

Strawberry, Spinach & Cashew Salad (Recipe from here)

Makes: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt and pepper

Salad:

  • One package (10 oz) fresh spinach, chopped (about 10 cups of torn leaves)
  • 4 cups sliced fresh strawberries (cleaned and hulled)
  • 1 cup peaches, finely chopped (we used mangoes since peaches aren’t quite in season yet)
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/3 cup cashews

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the dressing ingredients, and whisk together well. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can serve the dressing immediately or you can cover it and chill for an hour.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all of the salad ingredients, except the cashew nuts. Add the dressing to the salad and toss. Sprinkle cashew nuts on top of the salad.

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Garlic Butter Asparagus Pasta (Recipe from here)

Makes: 3-4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry orzo
  • 1-pound fresh asparagus, cut into 2 to 3-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼-cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • Shredded parmesan cheese for garnish, optional

Directions:

  1. Prepare orzo according to the directions on the package.
  2. Add the asparagus tips to the orzo the last 2-minutes of cooking.
  3. Remove from heat and drain.
  4. In the meantime prepare the garlic-butter sauce:
    1. Add butter to a skillet and melt over medium heat.
    2. Stir in garlic and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until lightly browned, stirring very frequently. Do not burn the garlic.
  5. Add orzo and asparagus to the skillet; stir in the cheese, milk, parsley, salt and pepper.
  6. Cook for 1 minute, or until heated through.
  7. Remove from heat.
  8. Garnish with parmesan cheese and serve.

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