Thick asparagus stalks are best for this dish because they’re easier to shave.
The trick to this recipe? We cook the pasta in as little water as possible so the resulting pasta water becomes viscous with starch. Adding a little of the water to the sauce makes it extra creamy and helps it cling to the noodles. Pine nuts can be expensive—a good budget substitute is unsalted sunflower seed kernels.
1 pound thick asparagus stalks, trimmed
1 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen English green peas
Use a vegetable peeler to shave asparagus stalks into long, thin strips (about 4 cups shaved asparagus).
Combine peas, mint, nuts, salt, half of cheese, and garlic in a food processor; pulse until a chunky puree forms. With motor running, slowly add oil, pouring in a thin, steady stream until a smoother puree forms.
Fill a 12-inch high-sided skillet with 2 inches water. Bring water to a boil over high. Add pasta to skillet, and completely submerge; cook until al dente, about 8 to 12 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Drain pasta; return cooked pasta to pan. Add shaved asparagus to pasta; toss well for 1 minute until asparagus softens slightly. Add pea puree to pasta; toss well to coat. Stir in reserved cooking liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, until sauce is slightly creamy and thoroughly coats pasta. Top with remaining half of cheese and serve.
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