In our house, Mondays are always pasta night. It’s the beginning of the week and all that brings, so I like to keep the stress low and the thinking on the simple side. Simple doesn’t mean boring though!
There are so many different directions you can go other than opening a jar of marinara. Choose your pasta – fresh, dried, gluten free – whatever you fancy. Then, I suggest letting the seasons dictate your flavors and textures – and this is easy to do when you know the basic technique of making a simple pasta dish.
In this recipe, I’m using pappardelle by @aldentepastaco, a local Michigan company and a favorite in our house. The pasta is about an inch wide, cooks fast and is so satiating, yet light. I’m also using leeks, asparagus, and peas to keep it seasonal. Serve it with a simple green side salad and you’ve got a delicious, vegetable-forward dinner to add to your repertoire.
Quick Farmer’s Market Pasta
- 1 tsp. + 2 Tbsp. Olive oil
- 2-3 Tbsp. butter, divided in half
- 4 oz. pancetta or bacon, diced
- 1 leeks, cut in half horizontally, washed well in between layers, and then sliced into half-rounds
- 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- ½ tsp. Chili flakes (use the amount that suits your taste)
- Zest of 2 lemons, divided in half
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ½ c. dry white wine
- 1 large bunch of asparagus, cut diagonally into 1-2 inch pieces
- 10 oz. frozen peas (or fresh shelling peas if you can find them)
- 1 bunch of mint
- ½ c. grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
- 12 oz. pasta of your choice (should be a long noodle like pappardelle, tagliatelle, fettuccine, etc.)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Wash and cut leeks and asparagus as stated above and set aside.
- Chop garlic, mint, and pancetta or bacon and set aside.
- Fill a large pot with water, add two huge pinches of salt (water should taste salty), and place it over high heat to bring to a boil.
- While the water is coming to a boil, place a saute pan over medium heat and add 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
- Add the pancetta (or bacon) and let it cook until the fat has rendered and pieces are starting to crisp up. Remove it (but leave the fat in the pan) from the pan with a slotted spoon and place it on paper towels to drain.
- Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 – 1 ½ tablespoons of butter to the saute pan. When the butter has melted, add the leeks, garlic, and chili flakes. Grate the zest of 1 lemon to the pan, and then season well with salt and pepper.
- When the leeks are nice and soft, add the wine to the pan and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the wine simmer until it is almost completely reduced and the pan is nearly dry.
- Add the asparagus to the pan and season with salt and pepper.
- Right after you drop the asparagus in the pan, you can add your pasta to the boiling water.
- After the asparagus has been cooking for a few minutes and is started to soften slightly, add the peas to the pan.
- When the pasta is al dente, do not drain it – transfer it – using tongs, directly to the saute pan. Add about a cup of the pasta cooking water to the saute pan and stir everything around. Let it cook for a couple of minutes and then turn off the heat.
- Add the rest of the butter, mint, zest and juice of a lemon, and Pecorino. Stir everything around until well-coated. Taste and adjust any seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. ENJOY!
- Please, please, please wash your leeks well – they are very dirty in between all of the layers – and if you don’t clean them well, your finished dish will taste gritty.
- Don’t want to use meat? No problem! Just skip step 5 – so easy!
- Don’t have leeks? Substitute a large onion or some shallots.
- Don’t like spice? Just omit the chili flakes – no problem!
- Need a substitute for Pecorino Romano? Parmigiano-Reggiano is the answer.
- Vegan? Use a vegan Parmesan substitute and vegan butter.
- Don’t know what wine to use? I would suggest a nice, dry Sauvignon Blanc for clean, well-rounded flavor. And then enjoy a glass with your pasta dinner!
- Don’t want to use wine? Skip it – use vegetable or chicken stock instead.
- These basic steps can be followed to make most any pasta throughout the year – just switch up the ingredients with the season.
Hello, I’m Natalie! I’m a professionally-trained chef and culinary instructor living in Ann Arbor. A career change, a trip through culinary school 20 years ago, and being a lifelong Julia Child enthusiast has led me to a career doing my very favorite thing: making food and cooking approachable to home cooks of all ages!
My passion for creating great food experiences and getting people excited about learning and having fun in the kitchen is always at the heart of what I do. I teach virtual adult and family cooking classes through Ann Arbor Rec & Ed, as well as my own private cooking classes and corporate events at NatalieMarbleCooks.com. You can find me on social media at @NatalieMarbleCooks and can sign up for my bi-weekly email newsletter here, where I share family-friendly recipes, tips & tricks, new class information, and hopefully a little inspiration!