Saturday, June 1, 2013

Recipe: Spring Vegetable Pasta

Based on a recipe from the May 2011 Cook's Illustrated and served for Sunday dinner on May 19, 2013. Makes 8-12 servings (for us, more than twice as many servings as declared in the original recipe).

There are a lot of steps in this recipe but it's not as hard or time consuming as it might seem. I tend to write atomic steps for recipes, in each step you do just one thing. My wife says it's because I'm a programmer. The recipe published in Cook's Illustrated has but 6 steps.



3 medium leeks
1 pound asparagus
2 cups frozen peas
4 medium garlic cloves
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
Fresh mint leaves
Fresh chives
1 lemon
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Table salt and black pepper
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound dry campanelle (farfalle or penne can be used as well)
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Wash the leeks to remove dirt and mud from between the leaves.
  2. Cut off the dark green tops, roughly chop them, and place them in a large sauce pan.
  3. Cut the remaining white and light green parts of the leeks in half lengthwise and then cut them crosswise into ½" slices.
  4. Snap or cut off the tough ends of the asparagus.
  5. Coarsely chop the tough ends and add them to the sauce pan with the chopped leek tops.
  6. Cut the tender ends of the asparagus on a bias into ½" pieces.
  7. Mince the garlic or pass it through a garlic press.
  8. Chop the mint making two tablespoons minced mint.
  9. Chop the chives making two tablespoons minced chives.
  10. Finely grate 1 teaspoon lemon zest.
  11. Combine the mint, chives, and lemon zest in a small bowl and set aside.
  12. Juice the lemon.
  13. Add water, vegetable broth, 1 cup peas, and 2 teaspoons garlic to the dark green leek trimmings and tough asparagus ends.
  14. Over medium-high heat bring this to a bowl then simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
  15. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the liquid into a large bowl or measuring cup, pressing on the vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the vegetables.
  16. Add water, if needed, to measure 5 cups broth.
  17. Wipe out the large sauce pan and return the broth. Keep it warm over low heat.
  18. In a Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat until shimmering.
  19. Add the sliced leeks and a pinch of salt, cover, and cook with occasional stirring until the leeks begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
  20. Add asparagus pieces and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
  21. Add remaining garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  22. Add 1 cup peas and cook for 1 minute.
  23. Transfer the vegetables to a plate and wipe out the Dutch oven.
  24. In the Dutch oven, heat 4 tablespoons oil over medium heat until shimmering.
  25. Add the dry pasta and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes
  26. Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until the wine is absorbed, about 2 minutes
  27. Add hot broth, increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil.
  28. Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente  and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
  29. Off heat, stir in lemon juice, Parmesan, half of the herb mixture, and vegetables.
  30. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  31. Serve with additional Parmesan and the herb mixture.
Clean the leeks and roughly chop the dark green ends.
Cut the lighter leek ends in half lengthwise and cut into ½" slices.
Cook the dark green leeks ends, tough ends of asparagus, peas, and garlic to make a vegetable broth.
Mince fresh mint and chives and combine with lemon zest.
Strain the vegetables from the broth and keep the broth warm.
Cook light ends of leeks until starting to brown.
Add tender ends of asparagus.
Add peas, garlic, and pepper flakes, cook and then set aside.
Cook the dried pasta in oil until it starts to brown.
Add white wine and and cook until fully absorbed, then add the hot broth and cook until the pasta is al dente.
Add the cooked vegetables, cheese, and herb mixture, heat through, and serve.

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