Spring Vegetable Pasta


Oh hey! It's Monday, and I'm at home. Blogging. And sick.

Nonetheless, I'm trying to enjoy my day browsing the internet for blog buttons and photoshop tutorials. I'm thinking of making some changes to Le Man and Wife in the next few weeks...I'd really like a cleaner look to the blog in general, and I'd also like to add my own handwriting font in places. I have a feeling I may need to wait until summer break to find the time, but hey, that's only 30 days away! May 29th, baby!!!


In the meantime, let's talk about Spring Vegetable Pasta. Husband caught me watching an America's Test Kitchen video about this pasta the other day, and after making fun of me, he too got hooked. The process for making this creamy, delicious pasta is really interesting and different--you cook dry pasta in a dutch oven until nutty and golden, and then add vegetable broth and cook the pasta like a risotto. The result is the most decadent, amazing pasta you've ever tasted. Not lying.

Here's my only issue with Cooks Illustrated: they like you to use about 12 dishes in every recipe. Considering we don't--didn't--have a dishwasher, I was a little wary to make this recipe. It was so worth it in the end, though! In fact, I even went right out and bought a portable dishwasher on Craigslist. Oops. At least we can make this decadent pasta again without worry!


A few recipe notes:
1. You will be using the parts of the leeks/asparagus that you normally throw away. Make sure you read the recipe closely so you don't discard the parts you need!
2. I know it seems strange to cook dry pasta in your Dutch oven, but just go with it. You won't be disappointed.
3. Experiment with using less dishes if you can! I found I needed a Dutch oven, a large saucepan, a glass measuring cup, a large sieve, a bowl, a cutting board, a knife, and my small lemon juicer. Oh and some measuring spoons and cups. See what I mean? Get creative if you can, then let me know how you did it.



Spring Vegetable Pasta
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen

Makes 4-6 servings

2 large leeks, dark green parts roughly chopped and reserved (3 cups total); white/light green part halved lengthwise, washed, and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (about 5 cups)
1 pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off, chopped, and reserved; good parts cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound fusilli
1 cup dry white wine
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese
Ground black pepper

Pour vegetable broth and water into a large saucepan and add dark leek trimmings, asparagus trimmings, 1 cup peas, and 2 teaspoons garlic. Bring mixture to a boil and then simmer over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Strain through a sieve, pressing the sides of the vegetables to get out as much liquid as possible (you will want about 5 cups--if you don't get that much, add water to make 5 cups liquid total). Throw away trimmings and pour broth back into saucepan. Cover and turn heat to low to keep broth warm.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add leeks and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring every once in awhile, until leeks begin to soften and lightly brown. Add asparagus and cook until slightly tender, about 4 minutes. Add rest of garlic and pepper flakes and stir around for 30 seconds, then add rest of peas for another minute. Pour cooked vegetables into a bowl and set aside for later. Wipe out Dutch oven with a paper towel, making sure to get rid of all brown bits at the bottom.

Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in Dutch oven and add dry pasta when hot. Stir continuously until pasta begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add wine and stir until absorbed, about 2 more minutes. Add hot broth and bring pasta to a boil. Cook and stir until most of the liquid is absorbed and pasta is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes (note: liquid will not be completely absorbed; thick leftover liquid is what makes this pasta creamy and delicious).

Take Dutch oven off the heat and add lemon juice and zest, parmesan, parsley, and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with extra parmesan and parsley for garnishing.