Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Penne with Asparagus, Sweet Peas, and Lemon

Last Spring I received an email from Food & Wine on extraordinary Spring dishes like penne folded with asparagus, sweet peas, and sage and laced with a touch of cream. I immediately made the dish with a few tweaks. You can find the original recipe here. After reading the reviews, I was afraid the dish would be bland so I swapped sage for some lemon + zest to brighten the subtle flavors in the dish and give it an extra kick. I revisited the recipe tonight and it was just as wonderful as I remembered.

The dish is simple and light-- perfect for Spring time-- and makes a good and quick dinner for a weeknight. And it pairs incredibly well with Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. I absolutely adore the combination of asparagus and grassy Sauvignon Blancs from Marlborough.

Penne with Asparagus, Sweet Peas, and Lemon (Adapted from F&W)
2 tbsp olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cups vegetable stock (low-sodium)
1 lb asparagus, cut into 1/2" rounds, leaving tips 1.5" long
2 cups peas
1/2 cup heavy cream
zest of one lemon
a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano, freshly grated
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Bring salted water to a boil. Add penne and cook about 2 minutes less than al dente. Drain.

Meanwhile heat olive oil in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add stock and rapidly boil over high heat until reduced by a little more than half, about 5-6 minutes. Be sure to reduce the broth otherwise the dish will be watery. Add peas and asparagus and continue to boil on high until sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes. The asparagus should be crisp tender, do not overcook.

Fold in cream and lemon zest. Stir in penne, and cook for 2 minutes. Squeeze some lemon juice over the pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, and stir in 1/2 cup of cheese. Transfer to bowls and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

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