This recipe looks kind of long, but it’s not complicated. It just has a lot of steps because each vegetable has to be lightly cooked on its own, then they all get added to the pasta and sauce. That way they keep their firmness instead of getting overcooked and soggy. Vibrant vegetables, and the basil, are what makes this Spring dish so especially delicious.
4 generous Servings, or 6 more modest ones (we quadrupled this recipe to feed 18, with most people going back for seconds)
▪ cutting board, knives
▪ vegetable peeler
▪ large pot with lid for pasta
▪ large frying pan
▪ large sieve
▪ measuring spoons, measuring cup
▪ several small to medium-sized bowls
▪ wooden spoon, rubber spatula
▪ large serving spoon
▪ 12 (more or less) asparagus stalks, cut into 1-inch bits, tips reserved separately
▪ 1 small onion, diced finely
▪ 3 cloves To 4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
▪ 2 whole medium carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally
▪ 1 whole medium zucchini, sliced diagonally
▪ about 20 snap peas, cut in half
▪ 1 box (about 5 oz.) white button or cremini mushrooms, roughly sliced
▪ 1 whole red bell pepper, sliced into strips
▪ about 20 cherry tomatoes, halved (get the multi-coloured ones, if you can)
▪ 3 Tablespoons butter
▪ 2 Tablespoons olive oil
▪ 375 g pasta, preferably whole wheat or white high fibre: fettuccine, or if you prefer bite-sized pasta about the size of your chopped vegetables, use penne or fusilli. Use gluten-free pasta, if you need this dish to be gluten-free.
FOR THE SAUCE:
▪ ¼ – ½ cup dry white wine (optional, replace with additional broth if not using)
▪ ½ cup low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
▪ 1½ cups cream (we used 18% coffee cream)
▪ ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
▪ 6 leaves basil (or more to taste), plus extra for garnish
▪ salt & freshly-ground pepper, to taste
- First, prep the vegetables. Chop the asparagus stems into 1-inch pieces, keeping the tips separate. Dice the yellow onion. Finely chop 3 to 4 cloves of garlic. Slice carrots on an angle, and do the same for the zucchini. Roughly slice the mushrooms and slice the red pepper into strips. Cut the snap peas and cherry tomatoes in half. Keep each vegetable in a separate bowl, ready to add at just the right moment.
- Heat 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and after a minute, the garlic. Stir together and cook for another minute or two, until they start to turn translucent. Then throw in the mushrooms and a sprinkling of salt. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, just until they start to darken. Remove from pan and put them back in their bowl.
- Melt another tablespoon of butter and add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Dump in the red pepper strips and sliced zucchini. Stir them around for a minute or two until just starting to soften, then transfer them back to a bowl.
- Add halved cherry tomatoes to the pan and toss around just until warm and starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Then remove them and put them back in their bowl.
- Add pasta to lightly salted boiling water and cook to al dente, using the time recommended on the package. Keep a close eye on the clock. When there are 3 minutes remaining, toss in sliced carrots and asparagus stems with the pasta. When there is 1 minute remaining, toss in the asparagus tips and snap peas. Drain pasta and veggies (reserving a bit of the pasta water in case you need to thin the sauce) and return to pot.
FOR THE SAUCE
- While the pasta is boiling, prepare the sauce. Pour ¼ to ½ cup dry white wine into the skillet that you used for the veggies (or use broth if you prefer). Add ½ cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, a tablespoon of butter and scrape the bottom of the skillet to pull up the flavour left behind by the veggie cooking (use a rubber spatula if your pan is non-stick). Cook over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes until the liquid starts to thicken.
- Add 1½ cups cream. Stir and heat, then add ½ cup grated Parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for a minute or two until sauce starts to thicken. Keep the heat low, so the sauce doesn’t curdle (but if it does, use it anyway, it will still taste delicious). Slice fresh basil leaves into fine ribbons and add; stir.
- Dump all sautéed veggies and cream sauce over the drained pasta and veggies in the pasta pot and stir gently but thoroughly. Put the lid on and leave everything to sit a moment or two over lowest heat (or turned-off element, if you have an electric stove), so the sauce thickens. If it gets too thick, add a bit of the reserved pasta water. Stir again and serve, with a few additional ribbons of basil on top.
adapted from http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/pioneer_womans_/