This is the pasta we made for my sister and her husband on this unintentionally-late-cooking night. We actually handmade these pasta noodles, which I’ll have to show in another post. Between messy flour, sticky noodles, and it being 11pm… we failed to get photographs of any part of that process.
Despite starting this meal way too late, it comes together super fast. The lemon and olive oil highlight the crunchy spring vegetables in a bright but simple way. And especially if you’re using homemade pasta, the flavors don’t overwhelm the taste of the fresh noodles.
I was pleasantly surprised that this turned out as elegant-looking as it does. Due to exhaustion and hunger, I served the rest of the non-pictured pasta in a giant bowl and we all dug forks in. It’s entertaining at its finest at my house…
lemon oil inspired by Giada De Laurentis, Everyday Italian
1/2 pound pasta, homemade or store bought – whole wheat, or whatever you like
1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon olive oil.
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
splash of white wine (1-2 tablespoons – optional)
1 cup chopped asparagus, thin spears, tender parts only
1/2 cup peas (can be frozen)
1-2 cups of spinach, roughly chopped
small handful of basil (about 1/4 cup), chopped
juice and zest of 1 lemon
pinches of salt and pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
grated parmesan or pecorino cheese to go on top (optional)
Make a lemon oil, by pouring 1/4 cup olive oil into a small bowl with the zest of the lemon. Set aside.
Cook pasta until just short of al dente. Drain pasta but reserve some of the pasta water.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil, add chopped shallot and garlic and cook until shallot is translucent (careful not to burn the garlic), about 1-2 minutes. Add a splash of white wine (if using – or just skip it) and drop in asparagus and peas. Add lemon juice (from the lemon you previously zested), salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Cook for about 2 more minutes until asparagus is tender but still has a nice crunchy bite, and peas are warmed through.
Add cooked pasta to the pan, toss to coat everything. Turn off heat and toss in spinach, letting the heat of the pasta wilt it.
Strain zest out of your reserved lemon oil (or leave it in if you want this extra lemon-ey). Pour lemon oil over the pasta and toss everything again. Add some pasta water if necessary to create your desired consistency. Toss in basil. Taste and adjust seasonings one final time, if necessary.
Finish with grated cheese and red pepper flake (both optional).