Friday, March 25, 2016

Spring Green Pasta

Last Year's Post: Citizen Public House Chopped Salad
Two Years Ago:   Lentil Salad with Bacon and Walnuts

Pasta Primavera is a great classic spring dish filled with bright vegetables.  The standard version often has a cream-based sauce which seems counter to the light, fresh feeling of the dish - a fragrant basil pesto seems better suited to the spring spirit.  I decided not to call this Pesto Pasta Primavera, however, because that level of alliteration seemed pretty annoying.

The good news is that you can make this dish before spring vegetables are actually available locally, using fresh produce from the store.  Then you can make it again using produce from the local farmer's market in a month or two.  I like the fact that it's vegetarian, but you could certainly add some cooked chicken or turkey if you want.  It's a fast, easy and healthy dish to get you in the mood for spring - you just do a fast vegetable saute while the pasta is cooking.

About the pesto: feel free to make your favorite recipe or buy some at the store.  A friend of mine introduced me to Costco's pesto sauce, which is excellent but like everything else at Costco comes in a large jar.  I divided it up between smaller containers and froze most of it - pesto keeps very well as long as it's thawed in the refrigerator and not the microwave.  Be sure to go light on the pesto at first while you toss everything together because you want it to be a fairly light coating on the pasta.  You can always add more if you want.

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Spring Green Pasta
Serves 4

8 ounces sugar snap peas
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, white and light green parts only, chopped
1 small zucchini, diced
½ cup frozen peas
1 bunch thin asparagus spears, stalks diced, tips left whole
1 pound linguini pasta
½ cup prepared pesto
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Drop the sugar snap peas in the water for 15 seconds, then remove with a mesh strainer and immediately place in a bowl of ice water.  (Do not discard the boiling water.)  When the sugar snaps are completely cool, drain and pat dry, then cut into thin pieces on the diagonal.

Cook the pasta in the boiling water according to package directions, then drain.

While the pasta cooks, add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the leek and sauté for a minute or two, then add the zucchini, peas, and diced asparagus stalks.  Sauté for 2-3 more minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are crisp-tender.  Add the asparagus tips and sauté for one more minute. Remove the skillet from the heat.  Add the drained pasta, sugar snaps, and sautéed vegetables back to the pasta pot and toss, adding some of the pesto at a time, until the pasta is coated to your liking (it should be lightly coated).

Serve in shallow bowls topped with Parmesan and coarse black pepper.

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