Here is a meatless yet satisfying dinner for Meatless Monday:
This was the first time we’d ever cooked with fresh peas; we usually use the frozen variety. But since peas (as well as asparagus) are in season, this recipe from the Williams-Sonoma Bride & Groom Cookbook seemed like a perfect recipe to try. We used Alton’s recipe for the pasta.
Have you ever worked with fresh peas? It’s not that getting them out of the shell is that terrible, but the taste is no different from the frozen ones we know and love, and they’re more expensive. So we don’t really see the point.
Although we had the fresh peas and asparagus, we forgot to buy basil, so we left it out. It would have added a lot to the flavor of the dish, so I would run out and get some if I were to make this again. As for the cheese garnish, we’re not big fans of cheesy garnishes, so we purposefully left it out.
The result was a delicious and light pasta dish. The combination of subtle lemon flavor mixed with the bit of cream sauce and crisp fresh veggies is definitely a delightful one. If you don’t have a pasta maker I’m sure you can replicate it with a regular box of fettuccine, but there is something special about fresh, handmade pasta!
- 1 bunch thick asparagus (about 8 spears)
- 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
- 2/3 cup heavy cream (but we used 1/3 cup)
- Minced zest and juice of 1 or 2 meyer lemons (we used 1 sweet lemon)
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 2/3 cup freshly shelled English peas
- 1 lb fresh fettuccini
- leaves from several sprigs fresh basil (we didn’t have this, so we skipped it, but it would have been a good addition)
- Shaved or grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese for garnish (we also skipped this one, but if you like cheese, you shouldn’t)
- To prepare the asparagus, snap off the tough woody ends of the spears and, if the skin is fibrous, peel it starting from just below the tips. With a sharp paring knife, cut the asparagus on the diagonal into pieces about 1/8 inch thick.
- In a small saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the asparagus and sate for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the cream, and heat until warm. Add lemon zest, salt, and pepper to taste. Do now allow the mixture to boil.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the peas and cook for 30 seconds. Add the pasta and cook until the pasta is tender and rises to the surface, 30 seconds-5 minutes, depending on freshness. Stir occasionally so that the noodles cook evenly. Drain the pasta and the peas, reserving some of the cooking water.
- Return the pasta and the peas to the pot and season with salt. Pour the asparagus-cream mixture over the pasta and toss to coat thoroughly. Add the reserved pasta cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce.
- Tear some of the basil leaves into ieces and add along with the lemon juice to taste and additional salt to taste to balance the flavors.
- Serve at once in warmed pasta bowls sprinkled with additional torn basil leaves and pepper, garnished with cheese.
This serves four, so we had some leftovers. Eat it for lunch the next day, cold. It’s even more refreshing!