Spring Pasta with Asparagus, Peas, Meyer Lemon Zest and Organic Crumbled Egg
By Heidi Allison
Fresh, first-of-the season asparagus is celebrated in this easy pasta recipe. Reserved pasta cooking water, reserved butter, garlic and lemon asparagus steaming water, and, grated pecorino create a simple sauce that lightly coats the pasta. In this dish, the focus is the Spring veggies—it’s the asparagus, peas and herbs, which grab your attention. But, this is a lightly butter-and cheese-coated pasta dish…If you want a creamier dish, try adding 1/4 cup room temperature mascarpone cheese at the end of the sauce stage, and adjust the seasonings.
This seasonal recipe is garnished with minced green herbs for flavor, Meyer lemon zest for a bright acidic note, freshly cracked black pepper and red pepper flakes lend a bit of heat, and the crumbled hardboiled egg provides protein. For the best silky texture, use large, thick stemmed asparagus that have the tough ends cut off (usually 3-4 inches from bottom) and remainder of the stem lightly peeled with a vegetable peeler. If you want to change it up, crumble roasted crispy, salty and smoky prosciutto over the top.
Serves: 2 as a main; 4 as a side
4 oz. imported dry spaghetti
1 1/2 pounds of large asparagus, about 16 spears, stems peeled with vegetable peeler, and tough ends cut 3 inches up from bottom
6 Tbs. unsalted butter
2/3 cup pasta cooking water
Salt and pepper
2 Tbs. Meyer lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 Tbs. grated imported pecorino cheese
1/3 cup frozen petite peas, rinsed and room temperature
2 hard-boiled organic egg, shell removed and crumbled between fingers
2 1/2 Tbs. minced fresh herb mix (equal amounts of dill, flat-leaf parsley and chives)
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
1 Tbs. grated pecorino cheese (optional)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of kosher flake salt. Place pasta in boiling water and cook till almost al dente, then remove to a bowl and set aside. Remove 1/2 cup pasta cooking water and set aside.
Put butter in a wide skillet, on medium heat, till butter is melted and sizzling. Add asparagus in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Using a microplane, grate garlic over seasoned asparagus. Place 1/2 cup pasta soaking water and lemon juice around perimeter of skillet, then cover. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until asparagus is firm-tender at base and bright green—about 5-6 minutes, shaking pan back and forth several times during cooking. (They will continue to cook after removed from heat, so resist overcooking.) Remove asparagus to a plate and set aside.
Place cooked pasta into same skillet, with warm lemon butter on medium heat, and toss several times till coated. Add peas and toss. Add cheese and toss. Add herbs and toss.
Remove pasta to a serving platter, along with any remaining butter lemon sauce, and sprinkle with red pepper flakes and Meyer lemon zest. Place butter-steamed asparagus around perimeter of pasta and top with crumbled egg, a few leaves of remaining herb mix and finish with another dusting of cheese.