spring pea + asparagus pasta
In the nearly four years we’ve been married, my husband and I have learned most of each others’ quirks. Like how I have a very specific sense of order about my things and if they are moved even an inch by my husband, I notice. Or, how he couldn’t care less about the cleanliness of our apartment, but his shirts must be folded perfectly. Or, how he believes anything above 40 degrees outside is “shorts weather,” whereas I could be up to my neck in a snuggie until July — unless it’s nighttime, in which case he’s freezing all night and I always feel like a marshmallow roasting over a fire.
It doesn’t stop when it comes to food, either. While we both do love a good Chipotle run, I definitely have my “single girl” dinners (read: salad, quinoa, Velveeta mac n’ cheese, cookies) whereas he has his own preferences (read: Chips, pizza rolls, frozen pizza, beer). Oftentimes we can agree on a home-cooked meal that satisfies both sets of tastebuds, but it doesn’t always happen. And sometimes, I’m surprised by what he actually does like (because really, it’s mostly chips and pizza).
This pasta falls in the “surprising” category. I made it on one of our very first warm spring nights, when we could finally take advantage of sitting outside for dinner. He’d just come home from happy hour with a friend and, already having imbibed two beers and eaten an appetizer portion of spinach-artichoke dip all by himself (so proud, I am), I hardly expected him to even take a glance at the fresh, veggie-filled pasta meal I’d prepared for myself. Yet, somehow, he managed to find some room in that bottomless stomach of his to not only try the pasta, but eat a full serving of it, happily. If my mouth wasn’t so full itself of this delicious dish, my jaw might have been on the floor.
But no, it gets better. Because my man isn’t the biggest fan of leftovers, either, and yet he continued to eat the pasta, day after day (I made a lot of pasta), and on its final day, he ate it for both lunch and dinner. Without complaint. Maybe he was just being nice in helping me finish the leftovers (I have this weird thing where we must eat ALL THE THINGS in the fridge before they go bad), but I like to think he actually liked eating the vegetables. I suppose when you’ve covered them in oil and butter and cheese, though, anyone would. BUT STILL.
My point is, this recipe is a keeper on our dinner rotation: snuggled in right next to the frozen pizza and the quinoa. And the Chipotle.
Spring Pea and Asparagus Pasta
Adapted from Cookie + Kate
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
1 lb medium pasta shells
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
5 shallots, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced widthwise
1 lb asparagus, ends snapped off, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 cups sweet peas
2/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
Juice from one lemon
1 cup chopped fresh herbs (I used flat-leaf parsley, mint, chives and baby dill)
3/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds (preferably unsalted)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; cook pasta shells 2 minutes less than package directs for al dente noodles. Drain noodles, reserving 2 cups of the pasta water, and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots, some salt and pepper, and cook until shallots are lightly golden, about 3 minutes.
Add asparagus, garlic and more salt to taste. Cook, stirring often, until asparagus is knife-tender, about 3 minutes. Add peas and cook another 2 minutes.
Add pasta to the skillet along with a scant cup of the reserved pasta water. Cook, stirring often, until pasta is well coated, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; transfer pasta mixture to a large serving bowl.
Add cheese and butter; stir to coat (add more pasta water at this point if needed so that pasta is loose but not watery). Add lemon zest, lemon juice, herbs and sunflower seeds; stir to combine. Add more salt and pepper, if needed. Sprinkle with more cheese and a drizzle of olive oil just before serving.