Four Green Squares

the tiny little blog no-one will ever read

A nice, heaping meditative scoop of something May 28, 2012

Filed under: recipes — FourGreenSquares @ 1:59 pm

I love working from home. Lunchtime becomes a moment of, “hmm, what do I fancy?” and a nice little meditative sliver out of the day (assuming, of course, that this meditative moment doesn’t comprise a mouthful of Nutella prised out of a mass solidified at the bottom of a forgotten jar, eaten with a cream cracker for afters).

Nope, today is Monday and the sun is shining. Definitely a day to hie myself over to the fridge and checkout the landscape.

So today’s creation is a warm pasta salad. I’m still American enough that I enjoy pasta salads but now Brit tastes have overridden childhood ones to the point that I no longer enjoy them cold. Hence this compromise.

Meatball and Grilled Asparagus Pasta Salad


  • Vegetarian meatballs (3 or 4 per person)
  • One medium onion
  • One bunch asparagus
  • Fusilli pasta enough for two people (about 2 cups uncooked)
  • Olive oil, soya sauce, vegetable stock, a dash of chilli or mustard


  • Slice the onion into rings, then halve the rings.
  • Heat a dribble of olive oil in a non-stick skillet and add the onion to one half and the meatballs to the other half, keeping them separate in the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, wash and cut the ends off the asparagus.
  • Add the fusili and veg stock to a pan of water and bring to the boil. Steam the asparagus over the cooking pasta.
  • Check on the meatballs and onions, turning down the heat. Splash the onions with some soya sauce and stir. The onions will cook faster than the meatballs, so shove the onions well off to one side if necessary. Give the meatballs a shake and stir. Keep checking while the pasta cooks. Turn off the heat when done. Generally, vegetarian meatballs take about 15-20 minutes.
  • The asparagus should steam in the same time it takes for the pasta to cook, so when the pasta is done, remove the asparagus from the heat and set aside.
  • Drain the pasta and tip into a serving bowl. Add the cooked onions and stir.
  • Check the meatballs and when done, they can be cut into quarters and added to the pasta and onions.
  • If you have a griddle pan, then this next stage can be done on the hob. If not, you can either use the grill in the oven or simply use the skillet. If using the griddle pan or skillet, add the asparagus to the pre-heated pan, stirring every few seconds so the spears get browned. If using the oven, place under the grill/broiler, turning every minute until grilled on all sides.
  • Slice the grilled asparagus into wide coins and add to the pasta salad.
  • For a dressing, add either a spoonful of wholegrain mustard or a dash of chilli sauce, another dribble of olive oil, and a splash of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. A shake of black pepper and you’re done.

Variation: Cherry tomatoes would make a great variation/addition, either griddled along with the asparagus and tossed in whole, or quartered and added raw. This would go better in a version made without mustard.

So there’s the day’s creation. The downside of a long lunch break, alas, is the need to then work through dinner. But at least I have yummy leftovers to look forward to.


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