Spring Pasta: Lemon Pepper Linguini with Asparagus and Spinach
The SLO Farmer’s Market can be a dangerous place. Surrounded by fresh produce and homemade goods of all kinds, it’s easy to get carried away and end up lugging home way more food than you could possibly eat in the next week. Which is why, when you inevitably succumb to temptation, it’s great to have a few friends along for the ride.
Is there anything simpler than making pasta? If you aren’t careful, it can become a boring, regular weeknight routine. Which is why I adore buying fresh pasta from the SLO Farmer’s Market. There is nothing boring about the spinach fettucini or the butternut squash ravioli. This week though, a different pasta was calling to me: lemon pepper linguini.
It practically shouted “spring vegetables are here! Buy some and eat me for dinner!” I listened, and I sure am glad I did. As were my dinner companions.
Pasta, asparagus, spinach- tasty, to be sure, but it called for a little something extra. Usually I would stop over at my local cheesemonger and pick up a wedge, but I decided to experiment a bit. The same vendor that sells this fresh pasta sells an amazing selection of Italian spreads. I picked up a garlic-cheese and lemon-artichoke spread. A generous dollop added in to the pasta-vegetable mixture just before serving resulted in an amazingly creamy sauce that picked up the garlic and lemon flavors of the dish.
The recipe below makes 4 reasonable or 3 generous servings. Of course, you could sub in dried pasta, but if you can get your hands on fresh pasta (even if it’s not this exact variety), I promise you’ll taste the difference.
Local ingredients: Lemon-pepper linguini, garlic-cheese spread, artichoke-lemon spread, asparagus
1 lb fresh lemon-pepper linguini
2 large bunches new asparagus (the thinner stems are much more tender)
1 large bunch spinach
2 tbsp each garlic-cheese and artichoke-lemon spread
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt water generously, and bring to a boil. Add pasta and 1/2 tbsp olive oil, simmering until pasta is tender (approximately 5 minutes). Drain into a colander, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
Cut asparagus into 1 inch pieces, steam until tender.
Heat remaining olive oil over medium heat; mince and add garlic. Sauté spinach until wilted.
Combine pasta, asparagus, and spinach in a wide skillet, then add garlic-cheese and lemon-artichoke spreads. Keep warm over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the spreads have melted and coat the pasta. Dish and serve!