The final throes of spring

The weather may be telling me otherwise, but it's just not summer yet. It's not yet the season for fresh mozzarella and garden tomato salads. Hot corn cobs are not yet coming off the grill. But this swelter seems to call for fresh vegetables, not the sweet and juicy summer variety, but cooler, greener, spring-time vegetables like asparagus, peas, and green beans. Or, at least, that's the revelation that came to me when I sat down to a big bowl of farfalle, chock-full of crisp veggies, and slicked with pesto and a splash of cream.

Though you wouldn't know it from the photo I snapped, this is a green, green dish. For the last few weeks, dinner has been getting underway at around 9:00 in the evening which is not a particularly photogenic hour for foodstuffs of any hue. But it's a real shame when the camera transforms something so vibrant into something so wan. I assure you, this "eat your spring greens" pasta has precisely the opposite transforming power over hungry, feeble-feeling folks.

Eat Your Spring Greens Pasta
Inspired by this Bon Appetit recipe. Serves 4-6.

1 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound small green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound farfalle
2 tablespoons butter
a 10-ounce package frozen peas, thawed
1 1/2 cups homemade or purchased pesto sauce
3/4 cup cream
1 tablespoon lemon zest
a handful of fresh basil
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
salt and pepper

1. Make an ice bath (a big bowl of ice and water).

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add asparagus and green beans and cook until just crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon (or some such instrument) transfer asparagus and green beans to the ice bath.

3. Cook farfalle until tender but still firm to bite, stirring pasta occasionally.

4. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add asparagus, green beans and peas. Season with plenty of salt and pepper. Stir until heated through and coated with butter, about 1 minute.

5. Drain pasta and return to skillet of vegetables. (If your skillet isn't big enough, use the large pot in which you cooked the pasta instead). Add pesto, cream and lemon zest and stir over low heat until pasta is coated with sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cut or tear up basil leaves and toss them, together with the pine nuts, on top of pasta.


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