An on-the-fly dinner for guests: fresh asparagus pasta with sun dried tomatoes and mini lime cheesecakes

I enjoy stressing myself out.

Last Wednesday night I invited my former roommate Alex over for a “lets catch up on each others lives and gossip shamelessly” sesh.  Obviously dinner was to be included.  I don’t have guests over any other way.

In hindsight, I probably should have realized that weekday evening dinners are a little chaotic.  Throw in a guest, an after work grocery shop via bike and backpack and my great need to make an extravagant, three-course meal, and you have a potential meltdown on your hands.

But not tonight.

I hope you are partially impressed by the fact that this meal was completely prepared within an under-two-hour time span.  FYI: that includes the grocery store trip and a painful, construction filled bike commute.

#awesome

For the main course,  a spaghetti dish I found on tastespotting, made with fresh pasta (ever since I was a child I’ve had a unparalleled love of uncooked, fresh pasta… much pre-dinner snacking occurred), peas, asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes.  For someone who had never tried the latter two ingredients before, this was a make-it-or-break-it meal for me.  The chopped asparagus tasted like the stalks of broccoli and the sun-dried tomatoes were like slabs of dried ketchup.  This may sound gross, but I actually enjoyed it profusely.

Leftover goat cheese also made an appearance.  Happiness ensued.

If anything, the dessert was the most chaotic part of this meal.

Time was of the ultimate importance, which is why I chose to make these no-bake cheesecakes.  The recipe, which I adapted ever so slightly from Canadian Living, suggested I refrigerate everything for long periods of time.

Translation: if you are short on time, just pop everything in the freezer for an hour.  Voila, a dessert prepared and set in the blink of an eye.  Add some poorly cut lime slices and peel, and you have the cutest little cheesecakes you’ve ever seen.

Fresh asparagus pasta with sun dried tomatoes
Adapted from La Bonne Bouche
 – 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1 onion, chopped
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 tsp dried thyme
– Half a bunch of green asparagus (about 6-8 stalks), cut into bite sized pieces
– 3/4 frozen peas
–  1 cup whipping cream
– salt and pepper, to taste
–  1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
– Enough spaghetti for two people (about two generous handfuls)
– 1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled

In a large, non-stick skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Fry onion until soft.  Add garlic and thyme; cook until fragrant.  Add the chopped asparagus and peas and fry for five minutes.  Add the whipped cream.  Let the sauce simmer for 15 minutes and then season with salt and pepper to taste.  A few minutes before sauce is done, add sun dried tomatoes, and stir to combine.

In the meantime, boil a large pot of salted water.  Add fresh pasta and cook until al dente.  Strain and toss cooked pasta with the sauce to coat.  Sprinkle goat cheese over the top.  Serves four (leftovers for lunch, hooray!).

Mini lime cheesecakes
Adapted from Canadian Living
– 1 1/2 cup chocolate cookie/Oreo crumbs
– 1/3 cup butter, melted
–  1 1/2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
– 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
– 1/4 cup whipping cream
–  2 1/2 tsp finely grated lime rind
– 1/4 cup lime juice
– 1 tbsp sugar
– Lime slices

To make my mini cheesecakes, I used my set of food rings to mould the cake into a cylindrical shape.  If you don’t have food rings, you can just use muffin tins or a normal baking pan to make cheesecake squares.

Line your pan (or the bottom of your food rings) with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

In a bowl, combine cookie crumbs and butter.  Mix until butter is evenly distributing among the crumbs.  Press the cookie mixture into your pan or the base of your food ring.  Put in freezer until firm, about 10 minutes.

To make the cheesecake layer, beat cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth.  Add condensed milk, the whipping cream, grated lime rind, lime juice and sugar; beat until smooth. Scrape and smooth over cookie base. Put covered in the freezer until set, about 30 minutes.

If you made your cheesecakes in food rings, take them out of the freezer and carefully pop them out of the metal mould.  Mine came out extremely easily.  If you made your cheesecake squares in a cake pan, cut them with a hot knife.  Garnish with lime slices and whipping cream, if you want.  Makes about 8 servings (yeah, okay, I still have leftovers…).

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6 thoughts on “An on-the-fly dinner for guests: fresh asparagus pasta with sun dried tomatoes and mini lime cheesecakes

  1. To start off Alex I love your shirt tots borrowing it and I am totally jealous of the delicious dinner duffington made you :( Hilary as per usual it looks AMAZING I am defiantly gonna miss you always cooking fab meals in our house and me munching on them. I think I should come for an Amanda dinner when I come back AND hire you as my AMANDAPALOOZA chef so prepare yourself in advance meal list to come…..

    Love you duff duff xoxo

  2. Totally in love w/ the cheesecake. But I could never make thoses “not baked” cheesecakes! Mine always kinda crumbles… I’m going to try yours though. Hope I can make it!!

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