Spring lends itself to dishes like this: a simple pasta dish loaded up with seasonal vegetables.
In Italy, it’s common to keep recipes like this quite simple: head to the local market to find what’s fresh and in season, and toss it in the pot for dinner that night. This dish is a great example of that sort of cooking – the flavors of the produce can really shine, and cooking them just enough helps them retain their crisp textures and vibrant taste.
Because this recipe is so simple, it can be easily adapted. Do more or less of certain vegetables – replace some of the asparagus with peas, or throw in some greens. Add pepper flakes or Calabrian chili paste for a kick, or brighten it up with a touch of lemon. Essentially, this recipe is a great blueprint for easy spring suppers.
You can’t beat that beautiful combo of red and green, either – doesn’t this dish just look like spring? You can use any pasta shape you like, but I’m especially partial to Nodi Marini (aka, sailor’s knots) because all of those nooks and curves catch every bit of sauce and flavor.
Pasta With Asparagus And Cherry Tomatoes
- 8 ounces short pasta, such as Nodi Marini, Fiorentini, Penne or Rigatoni
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 pounds thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups about 9 ounces cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup shelled fresh peas, or frozen
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 cup grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
- In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the asparagus, season with the salt and pepper, and cook for 3 minutes until slightly soft. Add the cherry tomatoes and peas. Cook for 2 minutes. Pour the chicken stock into the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook until the tomatoes start to burst and the stock is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
- Add the cooked pasta and 1/2 of the Parmesan to the large saute pan with the vegetables. Toss well, adding reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta. Garnish with the remaining Parmesan and chopped basil.