Sometimes the best recipes are the simple ones that just let good, quality ingredients shine.
We consider this dish that adaptable and always dependable recipe that can showcase whatever fresh, seasonal produce you can get your hands on. Chances are you have a bunch of asparagus in your fridge right now that you’ve been meaning to use. Here’s the perfect excuse to let that asparagus spread its wings and join its friends in this beautiful celebration of spring vegetables. Timing is key on this recipe; you want to make sure to add the ingredients in an order where nothing will overcook. There is a time and place for a jammy sauce, but this is not it. You want each ingredient crisp and defined with layers of color and texture. Add or omit the red pepper flakes to cater to your heat tolerance, but a heavy hand on the grated Parm is both welcomed and encouraged.
Perfect Pasta Primavera
Start to finish: 35 minutes
8 ounces uncooked linguini
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp diced pancetta
1 shallot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 lb asparagus spears, diagonally cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups fresh sweet corn (from 3 medium ears)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 small bunch Tuscan kale, stems removed, leaves torn into small bite-size pieces
2 tbsp unsalted butter
4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, about 9 to 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking water.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add the pancetta, and cook, stirring occasionally, until rendered, about 5 minutes. Drain and discard half the fat; add the shallot to remaining fat in the skillet, and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Season with salt. Add the asparagus, corn and red pepper flakes to the skillet, and sauté about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, and allow to blister and break down a little, about 5 minutes. Stir in the kale and cook just until it wilts. Stir in butter until melted.
- Toss the pasta in sauce, adding cooking water—1/4 cup at a time—to help the sauce adhere to the pasta.
- Season to taste with salt. Divide the pasta between 4 bowls, and sprinkle with basil and grated Parmesan.