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By Jenny Rosenstrach, Dinner: A Love Story
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Spring Pasta Dreaming

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 11:28
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For the last few weeks, when dinnertime rolls around I haven’t found myself where I like to be the most, namely sitting around a table with my family, downloading the day’s events over a plate of something quick and fresh. Instead, I’m sitting in a parking lot or on bleachers or walking around a track waiting for a practice to end. I had been warned this day would come, I had been warned that the older the kids, the later the practices, so I’m not complaining. Especially since it gives me some time to catch up on the podcasts I can’t listen to (or I’m not allowed to listen to) when the kids are in the car. Pod Save America saves me on Mondays and Thursdays, The Daily saves me…daily. And then there’s the Bon Appetit Foodcast, which is my favorite way to check out of the truly insane news cycle, if only for 46-to-54 minutes at a time. That’s how I came to be listening to Adam Rapoport (host, BA editor in chief, longtime friend of DALS), Carla Music (food director), and Andy Baraghani talking about spring pastas in their usual hilariously opinionated way. Maybe it’s because I was eating a stale Kids Clif Bar at the time. Or maybe it’s because one of my daughters doesn’t eat pasta, so I don’t get to eat it often. Or maybe it was just because I realized it was already May and I had yet to take advantage of mint, peas, leeks, asparagus, ramps, greens, and other spring VIPs. Whatever the reason, I have not been able to get creamy, greeny, spring pastas out of my mind, a problem I intend to address as soon as possible. To that end, a round-up of what’s in the running, beginning with the above, Pasta with Ramp Pesto and Guanciale, from Bon Appetit. (photo credit: Gentl & Hyers). Others that have me dreaming…

Creamy Asparagus, Lemon, and Walnut Pasta
(Food52; photo credit: James Ransom)

Spaghetti with Pistachio-Mint Pesto and Spinach
(Cooking Light; Photo credit: Jennifer Causey)

Pasta with Clams, Ramps, and Fava Beans
 (from Kitchen Repertoire; photo credit: Dana Gallagher)

Spaghetti with Mint-Pea Pesto
 from…DALS. (Also: This homemade pasta with mushrooms and peas that we made exactly a year ago was pretty killer.)

Pasta with Spring Greens
 (from Alexandra Stafford via Cup of Jo)

Two from Melissa Clark who always delivers: Crab with Snap Peas and Mint (above) and Pasta Primavera with Asparagus and Peas. (Both from The New York Times; Photo by Andrew Scrivani.)

Lastly: Pasta with Bacon, Peas, & Leeks from Back Pocket Pasta, by Colu Henry. It calls for bacon, but you can use pancetta, or prosciutto too, and — lucky us — they let us run the recipe below.

Pasta with Bacon, Peas, & Leeks

kosher salt
2/4 pound mezze rigatoni or other short tubular pasta
1/4 pound bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh peas or 1 cup frozen baby peas
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
3/4 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of the salt and return to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente according to package directions.

While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce: Cook the bacon until crisp in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, stirring often to make sure the bacon does not burn, about 4 minutes. Remove the bacon and set aside on a plate lined with paper towels.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat, add the leeks to the skillet, and sauce over medium-low heat until they are translucent, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the pasta and peas directly to the skillet and toss to coat. Increase the heat to medium-high, sprinkle in the bacon, and toss again, adding 1/4 cup of pasta water or more (up to 1 cup), as needed to loosen up the sauce. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Plate in bowls and sprinkle with parsley. Pass the grated cheese at the table.

Recipe reprinted from Back Pocket Pasta. Copyright © 2017 by Colu Henry. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Peden + Munk. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.


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