Linguine with Asparagus, Peas and Herbs
Here is a true springtime dish, made with the season’s early harvest of asparagus and peas. The vegetables are meant to be tender, not crunchy and firm, so don’t be tempted to undercook them. If freshly picked peas are not available, substitute frozen baby peas, also called petite peas.
- 1 lb. asparagus
- 4 Tbs. kosher salt
- 1 cup fresh shelled English peas or frozen baby peas
- 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 green onions, including 3 inches of green tops, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 2 yellow onions, chopped
- 6 oz. baby spinach, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt, plus more, to taste
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tbs. minced fresh mint
- 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 lb. linguine
- Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for serving
In a large pot, bring 5 quarts water to a rapid boil over high heat.
Meanwhile, snap off the tough ends of the asparagus. Using a vegetable peeler, peel away the thick skin to within about 2 inches of the tips. Cut the spears crosswise into 1-inch pieces, leaving the tips intact. Add 2 Tbs. of the kosher salt and the asparagus to the boiling water and cook until tender, about 6 minutes. The asparagus must not be crunchy. Using a wire skimmer or a slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus to a bowl. Add the peas to the boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Transfer to the bowl with the asparagus. Set aside. Reserve the water in the pot.
Meanwhile, in a fry pan large enough to accommodate the pasta later, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the green onions and yellow onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach, the 1/2 tsp. sea salt and several grinds of pepper and sauté, tossing often, until the spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the asparagus and peas, then stir in the cream and heat until hot, about 1 minute. Add the mint and parsley and stir well. Adjust the seasonings with sea salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
Return the water to a rapid boil. Add the remaining 2 Tbs. kosher salt and the pasta to the boiling water, stir well and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), according to the package instructions.
Just before the pasta is ready, if the sauce has cooled, warm it over medium-low heat, then remove from the heat. Drain the pasta, add it to the sauce in the pan and toss until the strands are well coated with the sauce. Transfer to a warmed large, shallow serving bowl or individual shallow bowls and serve immediately. Pass the cheese at the table. Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma The Pasta Book, by Julia della Croce (Weldon Owen, 2010).