Blame 8 parts work and 1 parts lazy for the relative dearth of food the past few days. Sometimes you just need a day or two to lounge about, not under pressure for much of anything. I even got late night Korean BBQ out of the deal. I cooked to be sure, and I kept camera tightly in hand to document for later use.
Our choice of what to make came down to having some asparagus that needed to be used in short order. Our slight adaptation is to remove the peas from the recipe. Peas are awful. I can’t explain to you how vile I find them. Wretched legumes.
This is am America’s Test Kitchen recipe for the most part. Again with the exception of peas. It’s the recipe I use because, like most of their recipes, it works. It’s not a simple throw together thing, for sure, but then it’s better than most pasta that is.
This recipe starts with leeks. Three of them. I used fairly small ones and thought the recipe nicely balanced. Divide them into white and dark green parts and dice. Trim the asparagus at this point. I generally halve asparagus and save the bottoms for stock or flavoring. Keep them aside for that very purpose.
Combine the diced green portion of the leek, the trimmings (bottoms) of the asparagus, vegetable stock, 2 tablespoons of garlic, and the water. Were it that you wanted to ruin the dish and have peas, you’d add half of them at this point as well. Gently simmer for about 10 minutes.
When the broth has finished cooking, strain and drain solids and return to heat. You can toss all the veggies and solids from the broth mix. Keep the broth hot on the stove top over low heat.
For the next bit I used our large enameled Dutch Oven. It’s big and just about perfect for this sort of dish. A larger pot would probably suffice in a pinch. Oil the bottom. When the oil is hot toss in white bits of the leeks and cook for about 5 minutes. Just until they start to brown. Add asparagus and cook just until tender. Figure about another four to six minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of garlic, red pepper flake, and again the other half of the peas if you’re so inclined. Cook for about another minute.
Put all this aside in a bowl and go ahead and wipe your pot out. Nice and clean. Oil it up again, about 4 tablespoons this time. When the oil is hot add dry pasta. Just dump it right in. Continue to cook and stir for about 5 minutes. It should be lightly turning brown in spots by this point. You’re toasting the pasta slowly. Add the wine and cook until absorbed. That should take about another two minutes, give or take. When the wine has been mostly absorbed add the hot stock and turn heat to medium-high. Stir the pasta mix until most of the stock has been absorbed. Figure on eight to ten minutes for that to go down. My other, half ruminating on the dish, said it was like risotto for pasta. It even gets fairly creamy, just like real risotto. Fair enough.
When liquid is absorbed; remove from pot, stir in lemon juice, cheese, vegetables, and about half of the herb/zest combo. Serve the pasta with extra Parmesan and the remaining herby-zest thing standing nearby. Killer dish. More so without the peas. Gack!
- 3 Small Leeks, Separated Into White/Green Sections and Diced
- 1 Pound or Large Bunch Asparagus, Woody Bits Trimmed and Reserved; Spears Cut into 1/2″ Pieces
- If You Wanted to Ruin the Dish – 2 Cups of Peas
- 4 Cloves of Garlic – Diced
- 4 Cups Vegetable Broth (or Chicken Broth)
- 1 Cup of Water
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Mint Leaves
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Chives
- 1/2 Teaspoon Finely Grated Lemon Zest (about one lemon)
- Juice From One Lemon
- 6 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1/4 Teaspoons Red Pepper Flake
- 1 Pound Dry Pasta (Farfalle, Penne, Etc…)
- 1 Cup Dry White Wine
- 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan