Everyone loves a big bowl of pasta for dinner. There is nothing more comforting than enjoying a hot bowl of noodles on the couch, in front of your favorite show. You can tailor your pasta ingredients to the time of year to ensure you are using the freshest ingredients possible.
In this vegetarian pesto pasta recipe, all spring vegetables are used. Be sure to buy the best-looking seasonal produce when picking veggies for this dish. As written, spring peas, mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, spring onion, and red bell pepper are used in this pasta. There are so many veggies, there are almost as many veggies are there is pasta!
When making a spring veggie pasta dish, it’s nice to keep the dish light by using a homemade pesto to dress the pasta. Pesto is a combination of blended basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. For a little brightness, lemon zest is added to the pesto. Traditional folks make it inside of a mortar and pestle, but for ease and convenience, you can use a blender or food processor.
Since pasta is one of the stars of the dish, using a quality brand is essential. Use a thick egg fettuccine that comes in dried nests instead of long strands. These types of pasta are fresher, cook faster, and have a better bite than traditional boxed kinds of pasta. You could also make this with homemade pasta if you’re experienced at making homemade fettuccine.
To make a rich and luxurious pasta sauce, save some of your pasta cooking liquid! This is the most essential tip when it comes to making restaurant-worthy pasta dishes. Starch from pasta gets released into the water during the cooking process, leaving behind starchy cooking liquid. By saving ½-1 cup of water, you can add that back into the pasta as it finishes cooking in your sauce.
Something you should also always do is finish cooking your noodles inside of the sauce. This way, some of the sauce gets absorbed by the pasta itself. This is also the time to add a little pasta water at a time back into the pan. The liquid will evaporate off and you will be left with added pasta starch in the pan, bonding with the sauce. This makes for a silky and luxurious sauce that coats the noodles. If you have never tried this method before, it is highly recommended!
The pesto sauce, vegetables, and fettuccine all come together to create a light dish that is perfect to eat during the peak spring vegetable season. Coming out of winter is tough since heavy foods are enjoyed during that time. This pasta dish makes it a little easier to move onto healthier dishes with the season’s change.
For the Pesto:
Start by making the pesto. Add the nuts, cheese, garlic, basil, and lemon zest to the blender and blend on high. Slowly stream in the olive oil drop by drop as the machine is running to emulsify the pesto. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Allow the pan to heat for 1-2 minutes.
Add the mushrooms, shallot, and bell peppers to the butter. Stir and saute for 3-4 minutes until the veggies soften. Then add the spinach leaves and stir to combine.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add plenty of salt to the water. Blanch your peas and asparagus for 2 minutes, and then remove with a spyder strainer to a bowl filled with ice water to shock them. This stops the cooking process and keeps the veggies crisp.
To the same boiling water used for the veggies, add your pasta and cook as per package directions. Save about ½ cup of pasta water. Drain about 1 minute shy of al dente.
Add the drained pasta to the sauteing mushrooms and toss together over medium-low heat. Add about ½ of the pesto and stir. Stir in the pasta water 1 tbsp at a time and toss. Once the sauce is clinging to the pasta, the dish is ready. Stir in the asparagus and peas.
Plate and serve with spring onions and additional Parmesan cheese on top, if desired.