Pasta Primavera

Ah, tax day. As I waited in the interminable line at the post office yesterday to send off our returns (I’m not a procrastinator usually, I swear!), I thought about new beginnings. New year, new taxes to file…and a new season of vegetables. Saturday at the Santa Monica Farmers Market, there were so many gorgeous options to choose from – and two of our absolute favorites are part of April’s bounty: asparagus and peas. 

Zuckerman Farms’ asparagus are listed on pretty much every 'farm to table' restaurant menu in Los Angeles right now. And there’s a good reason – they’re delicious. They taste like asparagus! And if you’ve eaten asparagus from your local grocery store, you know what I’m talking about. They’re earthy, bright and tangy and they are perfect simply roasted with some olive oil, salt and pepper or blanched for two minutes in boiling water.

On Saturday, we also picked up some fresh peas from Tutti Frutti Farms that are super sweet, firm and the brightest green.

 Since we deserve a little reward after our long day/week/month of doing taxes, what better way than with a dish dedicated to new beginnings and the gifts of Spring. This pasta is creamy, lemony, light and fresh - and honors the flavors of this April’s seasonal produce.

“Spring Pasta with Peas & Asparagus” Adapted from Bon Appetit

INGREDIENTS

1 pound pasta - we used penne but really any sturdy shape like rigatoni or mezze maniche will do

3 ounces pancetta, diced (bacon will work if you can’t find pancetta)

1 1/4 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces

2 cups shelled fresh green peas, blanched 1 minute in boiling water and drained – you can also use frozen peas here and actually this most recent time, we supplemented our fresh with frozen

2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced finely

1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus additional for serving

1/3 cup heavy cream

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. lemon zest

3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (tip: zest your lemon before juicing!)

2 Tbsp. minced fresh Italian parsley

1/4 cup fresh basil, sliced into thin strips

  1. Cook the pancetta in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to paper towels to drain. Pour off most of the drippings from skillet, leaving a thin layer in the pan. Add asparagus and sauté about 3 minutes, until just tender.
  2. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente but still firm to bite – it will continue cooking towards the end. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid. Return the pasta to the pot.
  3. Add the peas and garlic to your asparagus and sauté until vegetables are just tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Add the vegetables, 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid, 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, heavy cream, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, parsley, and half of the basil to your pasta. Toss, adding more cooking liquid if needed – the sauce should be glistening and creamy.
  5. Season with a good amount of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  6. Transfer to a large bowl. Sprinkle the pancetta and remaining basil on top. Serve with additional Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, if desired. And we desire!

There are several other delicious vegetables in season right now in California and all over the country that can be used in a pasta primavera or “spring pasta.” All it takes is a stop at your local farmers market to gather inspiration.

Learn more about Zuckerman Farms at http://zuckermanproduce.com/

Learn more about Tutti Frutti Farms at http://www.tuttifruttifarms.com/tuttifruttilocalmarkets.html