Fennel, Leek, and Pea Pasta

I was planning on posting my harvest totals for May today, but I spilled a beer on my laptop a couple of days ago and lost all my data.  😦  The computer is sitting in a bag of rice right now, though, so hopefully it recovers!  In the meantime, here’s a recipe I made the other day that is the epitome of spring – it has plenty of bright, green flavors, and uses a lot of veggies and herbs from the spring garden.

This pasta is quick and easy to make, and should come together (including veggie-chopping time, but probably not including harvesting time!) in about the amount of time it takes to boil a pot of water and cook pasta.  It’s great served with a crisp, dry white wine – we had it with our homemade, lightly-oaked chardonnay, but a sauvignon blanc or something with light herbal notes would also be great!

Makes 6-8 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 large leek, finely chopped (most leek recipes will tell you to just use the white and light green parts, but go ahead and use the whole thing if you want!  I did.)
  • about 1.5 cups shelled peas and/or snowpeas cut into one-inch pieces (frozen peas work great if you don’t have fresh!)
  • 1 large fennel bulb, stems and fronds removed and reserved for another use (the stems can be frozen to add to soup or fish stock), sliced  lengthwise into thin strips
  • about 2 Tbsp minced fresh tarragon
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 16 oz pasta (a short, chunky type such as penne, cavatappi, or farfalle is best; I used gemelli)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parmesan cheese for garnish
The veggies: fennel, tarragon, leek (already chopped in the bowl), and peas.

The veggies: fennel, tarragon, leek (already chopped in the bowl), and peas.

(photo outtake – the toddler was eager to get at those veggies!)

Directions

  1. Start a large pot of water to boil for the pasta; once it starts boiling, add a generous amount of salt, and cook pasta according to the package directions.  Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
  2. Add butter and oil to a large, heavy skillet heated to medium heat.  Add the leeks and salt/pepper to taste, and saute about 2 minutes or until the leeks just begin to soften.pasta3
  3. Add fennel strips and more salt/pepper to taste; saute until very soft, about 10 minutes.  If the pan gets too dry and the fennel begins to brown, add some of the pasta cooking water a couple of tablespoons at a time, to cool the pan and help the veggies to steam.
  4. Add peas, and saute 2 minutes.pasta4
  5. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water to the skillet, and turn off the heat.
  6. Add the veggie mixture and tarragon to cooked, drained pasta; stir to combine.  Add more of the reserved pasta water if it looks too dry.
  7. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt/pepper if necessary.
  8. Serve, garnishing with fennel fronds and freshly grated parmesan cheese.pasta5
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