Now that summer is officially upon us, I felt the need to celebrate the beginning of fresh local veggies. Asparagus, peas, radishes, kale, chard, and salad greens are just a few popping up in my local co-op's produce section. I had some fresh asparagus from a member of our local food co-op and picked up some fresh sugar snap peas from Honey Creek Farm. I had seen a recipe which combined these two early summer ingredients with fettuccine, fresh local basil, and Parmesan and I decided to make my own version. I had some extra time this evening, so I chose to make my own fettuccine. I've provided a link to the recipe I used (subbing semolina flour for all-purpose flour), but you can also use purchased fresh or dried noodles. Making your own pasta can be very simple, and if you have a little extra time I recommend giving it a try. (Note: if you have a good rolling pin and a pizza wheel, and are willing to put in some elbow grease, you don't need a pasta maker for long noodles such as these).
To try something else new, use a chiffonade technique with the basil garnish. Chiffonade is an easy knife skill that can add a simple yet elegant touch to your plate. To do this with basil, stack several leaves on top of each other and roll them up the long way. Using a sharp knife, slice the roll of basil the short way. From this, you get fine slivers of basil perfect for sprinkling atop any pasta or salad.
The result of this beautiful summer vegetable combination is a deliciously light dish with a slight citrus note on the asparagus and nuttiness added by the shaved Parmesan. Use purchased pasta (fresh or dried) to make this an easy mid-week meal. Pair with a chardonnay that has a good balance of butter and citrus, which will play up the two undertones of this dish.
Fettuccine with Fresh Asparagus and Peas
1 bunch fresh asparagus (about 10 spears), not too thick
2 tbsp butter or olive oil
Minced zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt & pepper
3/4 c freshly shelled Sugar Snap or English peas
1 lb fresh fettuccine (or 8 oz dried)
Several leaves of fresh basil
Shaved or grated Parmesan
With a sharp knife, cut the asparagus on the diagonal into pieces about 1-inch thick. In a small saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the asparagus and saute for 2 minutes.* Reduce the heat, add the lemon zest and juice. Combine, then add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted 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 (the timing here will depend on if the pasta is fresh or dried, anywhere from 30 seconds to 6-7 minutes, so keep a close eye on it). Stir occasionally so that the noodles cook evenly. They will be done when they begin to occasionally float to the surface, but also use your fingers or a fork to test doneness. Drain the pasta and peas, then return to the pot.
Add asparagus mixture to the pasta and pea mixture and toss thoroughly to combine. Taste, then adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
Scoop the pasta onto four plates. Top with Parmesan and basil and serve immediately.
*To make this dish extra indulgent, reduce the butter to 1 tbsp add 2/3 cup heavy cream at this point in the recipe, before adding the zest, juice, pepper, and salt. Heat the cream through and then add the remaining ingredients, being sure to not let the mixture boil.