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Easy dinner recipes: When vegetables make you feel like you're eating pasta

Shaved vegetable salads mimic traditional pastas for gluten-free options

Many pasta options are out of the question if you're trying to pursue a gluten-free diet, but that doesn't mean you can't have fun. In addition to gluten-free pastas, vegetables and fruits can be sliced or "shaved" to mimic the traditional noodles. Check out these salad options for ideas:

Shaved asparagus with mushrooms and Parmesan crumble: Shaved asparagus spears are tossed with thinly sliced mushrooms and walnuts in a bright vinaigrette in this simple salad, topped with crumbled Parmesan crisps. A perfect dish whether you're planning for company or a simple meal with the family. You can find the recipe below.

Salad of blood orange, white asparagus and bottarga di tonno: A salad from renowned chef Judy Rodgers of Zuni Cafe, this simple yet colorful dish contains only four ingredients -- white asparagus, blood orange, tuna bottarga and olive oil -- and comes together in minutes.

Shaved fennel salad with smoked salmon: Shaved fennel is tossed with a light lemon dressing, the salad served alongside smoked salmon in this simple dish which comes together in only 15 minutes.

If you are sensitive to gluten, check all ingredients to make sure they are gluten-free before using. Many may contain trace gluten (such as spices, a number of which include flour as an anti-caking agent) and/or are produced in facilities that also process gluten-based products. Some ingredients, such as mushrooms (mushroom spores are grown on gluten grains), and certain cheeses may not be suitable for those particularly sensitive to trace gluten.

For more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight! page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Leave a comment or email me at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

SHAVED ASPARAGUS WITH MUSHROOMS AND PARMESAN CRUMBLE

Total time: 40 minutes | Serves 4

2 ounces Parmesan, grated
Generous 1/3 cup walnut halves
1 pound medium asparagus
1/4 pound white mushrooms
1 tablespoon minced chives
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicon sheet or parchment paper. Spoon the grated Parmesan in 1-tablespoon mounds on the sheet and press lightly to flatten. Bake until the cheese is melted and browned, about 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.

2. When the Parmesan crisps are done, place the walnuts on the baking sheet, and bake until toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove and cool.

3. Shave the asparagus: Lay a stalk flat on the cutting board, holding it at the base. Starting at about where the pale base turns green, use a vegetable peeler to shave the stalk in long, even strips all the way through the tip. When you've gotten about halfway through the stalk, turn it over and start on the other side. When you reach the point that the peeler will no longer shave the spear, rest the spear on top of the flat handle of a wooden spoon to elevate it and take the last two or three strips. You can either discard what remains or save it to make an asparagus soup.

4. Trim the bottoms of the stems from the mushrooms so they'll sit flat on the work surface. Using a very sharp knife, slice the mushrooms as thin as you can.

5. Combine the asparagus shavings, mushrooms and walnuts in a large mixing bowl, and toss gently.

6. Place the minced chives in the bottom of a small bowl and cover with the olive oil. Add the lemon juice and one-half teaspoon salt, and whisk until smooth. Pour all but a teaspoon or so of this dressing over the asparagus mixture and toss gently with your hands to lightly coat. Add the rest of the vinaigrette, a little at a time, as necessary. Season with salt to taste.

7. Arrange the salad on a platter, and crack the Parmesan crisps over the top in large pieces. Serve immediately.

Each serving: Calories 194; Protein 9 grams; Carbohydrates 5 grams; Fiber 2 grams; Fat 16 grams; Saturated fat 4 grams; Cholesterol 12 mg; Sugar 2 grams; Sodium 517 mg.

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