Pasta Primavera with Asparagus and Peas
Who doesn’t love pasta? It has long been a favorite of people of all ages the world over—delicious, economical, filling, and open to endless possibilities. Pasta’s infinite varieties can be dressed in many different ways.
Cookbooks are rife with recipes for pasta primavera, pasta combined with lightly cooked vegetables. According to Wikipedia, its exact origins are disputed, but all agree that pasta primavera first appeared on restaurant menus in the 1970’s in Manhattan. Many recipes for this healthy dish include a chorus of vegetables—broccoli, red pepper, zucchini, mushrooms, etc.—but I love the simplicity of the following recipe from Melissa Clark, highlighting crisp asparagus and peas.
This recipe calls for fresh pasta. I do think it makes a difference. I used fettuccine, cooked for about 2 ½ minutes only, from Mona Lisa Pasta in Charlottesville.
Ingredients (for four)
¼ pound sugar snap peas, stems trimmed
½ pound asparagus, ends snapped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup fresh English peas
¼ cup thinly sliced spring onion, white part only (or use shallot)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ teaspoon fine sea salt, more as needed
Black pepper, more as needed
12 ounces fettuccine or tagliatelle, preferably fresh
⅔ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, at room temperature
½ cup crème fraîche or whole milk Greek yogurt, at room temperature
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over medium-high heat.
- While the water is coming to a boil, slice snap peas and asparagus stems into 1/4-inch-thick pieces; leave asparagus tips whole.
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add snap peas, asparagus, English peas and onion. Cook until vegetables are barely tender (but not too soft or mushy), 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute more. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.
- Drop pasta into boiling water and cook until al dente (1 to 3 minutes for fresh pasta, more for dried pasta). Drain well and transfer pasta to a large bowl. Immediately toss pasta with vegetables, Parmigiano-Reggiano, crème fraîche and herbs. Season generously with salt and pepper, if needed.
One of the beauties of finding recipes online is the opportunity to read comments from those who have tried the recipes. Thus, cooking becomes a more interactive experience. I found the following suggestions useful:
- Rather than the crème fraîche, drizzle olive oil over the finished product—more natural and lighter. (I tried it both ways. Personal preference reigns. Both are delicious.)
- Add frozen peas after draining the pasta; then toss. (I agree. This keeps the peas tasty and crisp.)