Rotini with Tomatoes, Asparagus and Goat Cheese

In Illinois, asparagus is in season, so every farmer’s market is overflowing with fresh, purplish green stalks. I love it grilled in the summer, but was looking to mix it up tonight and use some other ingredients I had on hand. I ended up making rotini with chicken and a grilled asparagus tomato sauce finished with goat cheese. Browned butter and garlic added a nice complexity that was really well balanced out by the tanginess of the tomatoes and goat cheese. It was definitely a keeper.

I wanted to keep the sauce simple, and let the fresh ingredients stand out. I started by sauteeing two cloves of garlic in just under a tablespoon of butter. Once it browned, I added in a can of diced tomatoes (use fresh if they’re in season, but use canned if the only tomatoes you can get at the store are a dull orange color — canned tomatoes are ripened on the vined and then canned, so they paradoxically have a much fresher flavor than greenhouse tomatoes). I let a bit of the liquid cook out for a minute or two, then added some fresh basil and turned the heat off. Fresh basil makes a huge difference — you could use dried, but you won’t get the same flavor.

I then grilled some asparagus on my cast iron grill pan with some salt and pepper, then cut it up and added it to the sauce. The chicken breast got a rub with a basic italian spice blend, and was then put on the grill while the pasta cooked. Once everything was done, I combined and finished with a crumble of goat cheese. Quick, easy, delicious.

Originally posted June 23rd, 2010

Rotini with Tomatoes, Asparagus and Goat Cheese

(makes about 2 servings)


  • 2 servings whole-wheat rotini
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes, or 2 fresh, in-season tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons (eyeball it) fresh basic, cut into ribbons
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Asparagus stalks enough to make 1 cup chopped
  • A quarter cup or so of goat cheese
  • Dried italian herbs, season salt, or some other rub for the chicken (optional)
  • Olive oil


Start by putting the goat cheese in the freezer to firm it up if it is too soft to crumble. While it is chilling, melt the butter in a saucepan and add minced garlic and cook until brown. Drain the tomatoes and add them to to the browned butter and cook just enough to cook off some of the excess liquid.

Lightly coat the asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper, and grill until tender. Chop into small pieces, and add to the sauce. Begin cooking the pasta according to directions. Rub any spices on the chicken breast and grill. Chop chicken into cubes, and layer pasta, sauce and chicken in bowls. Finish with crumbled goat cheese.

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