Monday, June 10, 2019

Pasta Primavera, in the summer

Things in life, I have learned, come back to you. Whether it's people or smells or a line you highlighted in a book, the past has an uncanny ability to ricochet into the future even for a moment, like a playful wink. Such was the case with this Pasta Primavera with Asparagus and Peas by Melissa Clark featured in the NYT's Five Weeknight Dishes roundup (which is my favorite part of The Internet these days.) Many many years ago in college when I lived in my first apartment outside of campus and was just beginning to discover the unparalleled sweetness of having guests over for dinner, on my roommate's little glass coffee table with cushions on the floor, a friend and I made a meal of Deb Perelman's Asparagus, Goat Cheese, and Lemon Pasta that, it would not be an overstatement to say, revolutionized our young lives. I did not know the reverie of stirring a soft cheese into a still-warm pot of al dente noodles with a splash of cooking water, the zing of lemon zest and juice cutting into the creaminess, and finally the magic that is tarragon, an herb that feels as fresh and pine-y as rosemary but more grown-up because it doesn't remind me of Christmas. This was a great meal, we realized, and we still talk about it today ("I made the pasta!" one of us will chirp every now and again.) 

For this reason, it was an exciting development to encounter NYT's Pasta Primavera, which brings together the key players of the recipe I knew and loved as in a high school reunion where everyone is still elegant and youthful: a dairy sauce base (they suggest yogurt or crème fraîche, I used Greek yogurt), trimmed asparagus, tarragon. However, it adds the delightful company of sugar snap peas, which are the crunchiest, coolest kids on the block, as well as a near-cup of English peas. There is, however, no mention of lemons (edit: I did Ctr+F and the comments section includes, to this posting, four results for "lemon," all probably by know-it-alls like me!)

To make a long story short, I made the pasta to the NYT's specifications, but I added the juice and zest of an entire lemon. I also cheated in many ways because it's Monday night and I cannot spend hours scouring for fresh vegetables, as lovely as that sounds: I used frozen snap peas and canned English peas. It was so delicious I did not need to grate cheese on top, and if anyone who knows me is reading this, you can appreciate exactly how good something needs to be for me to not add cheese. The tarragon was perfect as usual, and the addition of parsley was nice, but if you only have money to splurge on one I would just skip it and double the tarragon. Or triple it even. Depends on how much you like the taste of a forest, really. 

I love this recipe, which reminds me of my first days of cooking with and for friends. 


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