“You always want to try to use the whole plant when cooking, not just for the sake of your wallet and the environment but because the tough, stringy parts are often the healthiest for your gut! The woody bottom portion of asparagus stalks usually gets escorted out of the house by way of a trash bag. They may not be all that appetizing on their own, but blanched and then pureed? Say hello to your new go‑to pesto, friends.” – The Wellness Project
I’ve been following blogs for years. First, as a way to find gluten-free recipes. Then as a way to connect on my wellness journey with like-minded individuals. Finally, I just started to vibe with certain blogs, gaining inspiration and joy from reading. Phoebe Lapine of Feed Me Phoebe hit all three of those marks for me.
Hers was one of the first blogs I began reading, and one that I still follow to this day. I got hooked as I followed along on her journey to healing with The Wellness Project. Similar to Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project, Phoebe tackled a challenge each month of the year. She experimented with so many facets of “wellness” (here meaning: being your best self) from green beauty to water, exercise, periods, and of course food. Her writing was spectacular. Honest, interesting, and relatable. The year long project had its ups and downs, and helped her discover what was best for her body, healing it from the effects of having an autoimmune disease.
And now, TODAY, Phoebe released a book. Titled after her yearlong blog series, The Wellness Project chronicles that year of her life. In each chapter, she shares her experience, advice, and all of the research she did along the way. My favorite part about it is that it’s not a diet book, it’s not a cookbook, and it’s not biased. Phoebe shares her honest journey, and what worked and didn’t work for her body, all the while encouraging you to find out what works for yours. It’s non-dogmatic, healthy, intuitive, and beautiful. I read the book cover to cover in a few days and was inspired to start my own wellness project.
What makes this book even cooler though, is that there are recipes sprinkled throughout! And each one has a special message. From raw gingerbread cookie bites, to vegan quinoa fried rice, and baked sweet potato fries (with the most insane aioli I’ve ever tasted), they are all perfectly curated to fit the message of her book. When I came across her recipe for Asparagus Pesto Pasta Salad, I knew I had to make it. It’s a delicious combination of creamy pesto, fresh asparagus, and, of course, pasta. Her recipe includes sautéed shrimp, but I omitted it thanks to having a shrimp-hating human in the house, but it would have balanced the flavors perfectly. If you’re vegetarian and want to omit it as well, I replaced it with fresh, heirloom cherry tomatoes.
The pesto is one I will make over and over again, it’s full of anti-inflammatory walnuts, and has an option for herbs of your choice. It’s saucy so it can be poured over pasta, pizza, or buddha bowls, and the whole meal comes together in 20 minutes. Congratulations Phoebe, the book is phenomenal. Everyone, go get yourself a copy, on sale wherever books are sold! XOXO Karlie
- 1 bunch of asparagus (about 1 pound)
- 8 ounces gluten-free fusilli
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
- ¼ cup, plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¾ pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (I left this out)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish (I used fresh basil)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
- ¼ cup walnut halves
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare an ice bath. Tie the asparagus together into a bundle with two 10‑inch pieces of kitchen twine. Blanch the asparagus until bright green and tender, about 3 minutes. Use tongs to transfer the asparagus to the ice bath. (You can also rinse in a colander under cold water to lock in the color and stop the cooking.)
- Bring the water back to a boil, add the pasta, and cook according to the package directions. During the last minute of cooking, add the peas. Drain and shake out any excess water. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet. Season the shrimp with sea salt and pepper and arrange in an even layer in the pan. Cook until curled and lightly charred on both sides, about 3 minutes total. Add the shrimp to the pasta bowl.
- Untie the asparagus bunch and cut the stalks into three equal pieces. Transfer the woody bottom thirds to the bowl of a food processor, along with the chives, garlic, lemon juice, walnuts, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ cup olive oil. Puree until smooth.
- Coarsely chop the remaining asparagus and add to the pasta bowl.
- Pour the pesto over the pasta mixture and toss until well coated. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with additional finely chopped chives. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Keeping your diet full of fibrous veggies is important on a daily basis, but it’s particularly helpful during the ovulatory phase of your menstrual cycle, when your body needs extra help eliminating surplus estrogen. Make sure your gluten-free pasta isn’t packed with processed white flours. Stick with quinoa or brown rice as the base—my favorite fusilli brands are Andean Dream and Jovial.
Any bright green herb will work well in the pesto. Keep it traditional by adding basil or parsley, or give it a hint of anise flavor with fresh tarragon. Scallions can add some of the onion flavor you’d lose by swapping chives. Walnuts are a great affordable option to add a nutty body to the pesto, but if you can find pine nuts on sale, their flavor when toasted is unparalleled. And, of course, you can easily make this pasta vegan by skipping the shrimp.
Reprinted from The Wellness Project by arrangement with Pam Krauss Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2017, Phoebe Lapine LLC