As fresh asparagus and English peas are only available for a month or so, if you enjoy them, eat them as often as possible. Here’s one delicious way to do just that. Feel free, however, to substitute fava beans, baby artichokes or any other favorite early vegetables to this fresh pasta dish. Peas are frozen as soon as they’re harvested and hold their flavor well so don’t worry if you can’t find fresh ones. Finally, baby arugula isn’t bitter like its more mature counterparts, but if you can’t find it or don’t like it, substitute baby spinach leaves or a different vegetable.
Herbed Asparagus, Spring Onions, Peas and Arugula with Penne
1 pound penne pasta
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
2 spring onions, trimmed, cleaned and thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
1 pound thin asparagus, tough ends removed, cut into 2 inch slices
1 pound English peas (or good quality frozen peas), shelled
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons mixture of fresh herbs of choice: thyme, oregano, tarragon, chives, parsley or mint
6 ounces baby arugula
1 teaspoon Rain’s Choice pure Vanilla Extract
Zest of 1 lemon plus a squeeze of lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano
Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they begin to brown and are soft.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted to a boil for the pasta. Bring a large sauce pan of water to a boil, add the asparagus, and cook for 1 minute. Add the sweet peas and cook for 30 seconds, then drain. Add the asparagus and peas to the onions, then stir in the cream. Set the pan aside while you cook the pasta.
Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain and transfer to the pan with the onions.
Place the pan over high heat and cook, tossing, for 1 to 2 minutes, until the vegetables are hot. Add the herbs, arugula, 1/2 cup of the cheese, the vanilla, lemon zest, and the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and vanilla and toss well to combine. Season with salt and pepper and a good squeeze of lemon juice.
Serve in warm bowls, garnished with more herbs and the remaining grated cheese.