A Pasta for Spring

25 Apr

One of the strongest temptations of mine is to purchase every food magazine I see while standing in line at the grocery store. There was a very late shopping trip on one very, very late evening, however, in which I deliriously stumbled into Safeway with the goal of picking up frozen veggie patties and a food magazine. I was with two friends; alcohol was being purchased for a birthday celebration in addition to some random groceries. I remember sweet tea vodka, sweet and sour mix, potato buns, Roma tomatoes, lettuce, frozen peas, granola bars, Kraft macaroni and cheese, and a tin of mints.

The only appealing publication I was able to find was Bon Appétit, and the cover shouted Fabulous Pastas!, to which I responded in my head Oh, no. and Oh, yes! at the same time. It displayed a devastatingly delicious looking pasta that I decided would be the first recipe that I try from my subscription to the magazine. Mission accomplished! That’s right, I’m a subscriber now. What a dream come true. (But I shelled out $5 for that copy! My god!)

The pasta on the cover was a Fettuccine with Peas, Asparagus, and Pancetta. Every individual word in the title of this dish makes me melt. As a whole, my brain and my taste buds may just explode. I love how it takes two of gorgeous springtime vegetables and puts it next to bacon and fettuccine, my go-to pasta type. I am desperately in love with asparagus, and who isn’t? The texture is unmatched: fibrous, fun, crunchy yet tender (if cooked correctly).

I made the pasta this afternoon; the dish was simple, the pasta al dente, the asparagus tender, the peas sweet, the pancetta meaty and perfectly savory. The herbs, lemon, and parmesan were wonderful highlights and brought the dish to life.

And here is the slightly modified recipe from Bon Appétit.

Fettuccine with Peas, Asparagus, and Pancetta

12 ounces fettuccine
4 ounces pancetta (or bacon), chopped
1 pound asparagus, trimmed, cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
2 cups shelled fresh peas, blanched for 1 minute (or unthawed frozen peas)
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced, white and pale green parts separated from dark green parts
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided in half
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided also in half
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain, reserving 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the cooking, starchy liquid. Return the pasta to the pot.

While that’s going, cook the pancetta in a large nonstick pan over medium high heat until it is crispy. Transfer the pancetta to drain on paper towels with a slotted spoon preferably or with a fork. Pour off all of the drippings save enough to coat the bottom of the pan, about a teaspoon. Add the asparagus and sauté on medium heat for 3 minutes or so. Add the peas, white and pale green parts of the green onions, and garlic; sauté until the veggies are just tender, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from heat.

Add the veggies, half of the pasta liquid, the rest of the green onions, 1/2 cup of Parmesan, the cream, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon peel, and half of the parsley and basil to the pasta. Toss, adding more pasta liquid by the tablespoon if needed. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Either keep it in the pot, transfer it to a large bowl, or serve it straight onto plates. Sprinkle the pancetta and remaining parsley and basil over the top. Serve, passing around the additional Parmesan, and be generous with it!

I hope you try it!


2 Responses to “A Pasta for Spring”

  1. fattydumpling April 26, 2010 at 6:45 am #

    This looks really great ;] I’m still new to cooking, so it blows my mind when I realize that pasta can be eaten without canned tomato sauce. Haha, and congrats on your magazine subscription, I rely on the library for my food magazine needs. Sometimes they get returned with unintended stains, sadly.

    • jenn April 26, 2010 at 11:10 am #

      Pasta is so incredibly versatile! I remember making that same discovery some time ago. Subscribing took some hand-biting; I didn’t want to part with the money, but Bon Appétit has a $1 per issue deal going on now, so you should jump on that if that interests you!

      And tell me about the unintended stains! My poor cookbooks too… splotches everywhere. It’s impossible to avoid.

      Thank you much for the first comment!!

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