Pasta with Asparagus and Peas (Primavera)

primavera plated ***

Pasta Primavera can typically be made using all, or some, of Spring’s finest bounty.  My favorite way, however, of making this dish is with asparagus and fresh spring peas.   The simple flavors of asparagus and peas go so well together, especially when sautéed with shallots, garlic, olive oil and butter.   All you need after that is some freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, some fresh herbs, such as parsley, tarragon or mint, and a grind or two of fresh black pepper.  Heaven awaits your taste buds.  I especially love how light this dish is without sacrificing flavor.

Eating what’s in season, just makes sense.  Most culinary aficionados have touted this practice for many years.  But before that, human nature just knew that this was the tastiest (and cheapest) was to eat.    In my grandmothers’ time, this was how you fed your family…..seasonally, from your garden.   Even when I was young, we had a vegetable man who came around to our street a few times a week with the freshest, local produce of the season, piled high in his bus.  Now we can buy just about any vegetable at any time of year from all around the globe.  I try very hard to wait for the right food at the right season.  This is one of the recipes where I do just that.  Asparagus and peas are in season right now in NJ, and I plucked the herbs from my garden.   The taste is extra fresh and extra vibrant.  You really taste each ingredient.

The motto to the story:  take whatever vegetables are in season, preferably grown local (easy to do this now with Farmer’s Markets in most towns), sauté with garlic, shallots or even spring onions in olive oil and butter. Put it on top of any pasta shape of your choice.  Add some fresh herbs and grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, and dig in for truly delectable experience.  You can’t miss!

Buon Appetito!

RECIPE:  serves 4

1 pound asparagus, preferably thin

1 lb. fresh peas ( you can find them shelled in the “convenience” section of the produce aisle

2 large shallots, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 TBSP unsalted butter, plus 1 extra TBSP for mixing

3 TBSP olive oil

1 tsp fine sea salt, plus salt for the pasta water

4 TBSP minced parsley

3 TBSP minced fresh tarragon or mint or both

Freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

  1.  Cut tips off the asparagus and set aside.
  2. Cut stems of asparagus in 1 to 2 inch diagonals
  3. Melt the butter with the oil in a large sauce pan.
  4. Add the shallots, asparagus stems and peas.  Saute for 5 minutes, then add the garlic.
  5. Continue cooking for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the vegetable are tender but not mushy.
  6. Add the asparagus tips and fresh herbs (or you can add the herbs when plated) and cook 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente.  Drain.
  8. Add the 1 TbSP ( maybe 2) of butter to the serving bowl before adding the drained pasta.  Stir to coat the pasta.  Add the asparagus and peas mixture and stir to combine.  Add at least 1/4 to 1/3 cup of cheese and combine.  Grind some black pepper.
  9. Serve with more grated cheese and black pepper.

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