This is the time of year when the vegetables in the store call out to me and dictate what I cook. I came upon some beautiful ears of fresh corn last week – the first ones I’ve seen this season. They practically jumped into my cart. Then I wandered past some gorgeous green asparagus. As I grabbed a couple of bunches I started imagining a pasta dish with lots of lemon and basil and fresh grated parmigiana cheese….
Here’s what this pasta is about: the sweetness and crunch of the crisp-tender vegetables mixed with frilly pasta in a luscious lemony sauce. It’s like a beautiful spring day in a bowl!
This lemony pasta makes a great vegetarian main course. Serve it with a tomato salad or an arugula salad with cherry tomatoes, for color and flavor contrast. It also works well as a side dish with meat, chicken or fish. I’ve already made it twice in the last week – once with grilled salmon steaks and again yesterday – for Father’s Day – with pulled pork sandwiches and spicy grilled chicken. It’s delicious served hot or at room temp as a pasta salad. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!
- 1 pound pasta - any shape you like. I like the frilly shapes for this dish, such as Campanelli.
- 1 bunch asparagus, rinsed and ends trimmed
- 3 big handfuls of sugar snap peas (about 3 cups) stringed
- 4-5 ears of fresh corn, shucked (or substitute 3 cups frozen corn, thawed)
- ½ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 juicy lemons)
- ⅔ cup fresh grated good quality parmigiana cheese, such as Parmigiana Reggiano, plus more for sprinkling
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 10-12 large basil leaves, stacked and thinly sliced
- Blanch the Vegetables: Set up a large bowl of ice water in your sink. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. (you can use the same water for all the vegetables but cook the corn last to avoid strings getting tangled in the other veggies) Put the asparagus into the boiling water and set the timer for 2 - 3 minutes, depending on how thick they are. Transfer them to the ice water to stop the cooking process immediately and preserve their bright green color. Slice them into bite-sized pieces. Put them into a large bowl and set aside. Add snap peas to the boiling water. Set the timer for 2 minutes. Scoop them out and plunge them into the ice bath, using a slotted spoon or mesh skimmer. Slice off the tough little root at the end of each pea pod and slice peas diagonally into thirds. Add them to the bowl with the asparagus. Add corn to the boiling water and set the timer for 3 minutes. Plunge corn into ice water to cool and then cut the kernels off the cob and add to the bowl. (if using frozen corn, no need to cook it) Vegetables can be blanched ahead of time and kept in an airtight container in the fridge for a few hours - bring to room temp before continuing.
- Cook the Pasta: Fill a large pot halfway with water. Add a tablespoon of Kosher salt. Bring to a boil. Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
- Make the Sauce: While the pasta is cooking, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, parmesan, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Put pasta into the large bowl with the vegetables. Pour the mixture on top and toss to coat. Add up to a cup of the cooking water, tossing, until you get the desired consistency. The sauce won't be liquidy - it should just coat the pasta. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. Just before serving, toss basil through. Serve with extra parmigiana cheese.