Dec 19, 2012

Make this. Eat this.

Trying to be a bit more health savvy lately. Sometimes that means cutting back on the fats, cutting back on the calories, cutting back on the processed crap. But I've been missing pasta a whole freakin' bunch lately. And in that vein, I found the following recipe while watching an episode of America's Test Kitchen. It's a version of Pasta Primavera that uses no cream at all, and I have to tell's one of the most favorite meals I've ever prepared. So easy too.  The original recipe is behind a membership wall, but I changed it anyway. I'll paraphrase it here.

Spring Vegetable Pasta Recipe

  • 3 leeks - washed and halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Split between dark and light parts.
  • 1 pound asparagus - washed and split 1/2 between the spear and the rest. The spear halves can be cut into 1/2 inch pieces cut on a bias. The ass ends can be chopped roughly however you want.
  • 2 cups frozen peas - thawed.
  • 4 cloves of garlic - minced or pressed.
  • 4 cups no-sodium added vegetable broth.
  • 2 cups water.
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated lemon zest.
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice.
  • 4 tbsp fresh chopped herbs (I used oregano and chives, but feel free to play).
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes.
  • 1 cup dry white wine.
  • 1 oz grated Parmesan cheese.
  • 1 lb dry farfalle/bow-tie pasta (or something similar...I used mini-farfalle).
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

 - Place the dark green leek trimmings, ass half of asparagus trimmings, 1 cup of the peas, 3 minced clove of garlic, vegetable broth and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over high heat then reduce to medium-low and continue to simmer for around 10 minutes. Strain broth through a fine mesh and extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids and return broth to saucepan. If you don't have 5 cups of broth, add some water until you do.

 - Combine your herbs and lemon zest in a small bowl and set aside.

 - Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add the rest of the leeks and a pinch of salt. Cook, covered, stirring often until leeks have cooked down a bit and browned. About five minutes. Add the asparagus tips and cook, stirring often, for about four minutes.  Add the herbs, lemon zest and remaining clove of minced garlic and stir vigorously until aromatic, about a minute. Add the rest of the peas and cook for another minute. Then transfer all vegetables to a plate or bowl and set aside.

 - Heat the remaining 4 tbsp of oil in the Dutch oven after carefully wiping clean with a paper towel. When oil is shimmering, add the dry pasta. I know...right? Cook over medium-high heat for about five minutes stirring frequently until the pasta starts to brown. Add the wine and cook down for about two minutes, until the pasta absorbs the wine.

 - Add the hot broth...all five cups of it. Cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is al dente. Around eight minutes or so.

 - Remove pot or Dutch oven from heat and add lemon juice, Parmesan and vegetables. Stir and season with salt and pepper to taste.

 - Sprinkle a bit more grated Parmesan on each serving as you plate it. 


So you are basically cooking the dry pasta almost like a risotto. Amazing! I had never tried anything like this before, but it worked out incredibly.

The starch from the pasta should thicken the broth to a light sauce, as will the addition of the Parmesan cheese. The flavors that arose from the fresh vegetables and boosted veggie broth was amazing. Nutty and fresh and delicious. You can use either vegetable or whole wheat pasta, if you prefer. The version I made came out to about 8 servings at 350 calories per serving or so. Of course, we eat more than the recommended 1 serving, but it probably wasn't more than 500-550 servings based on our larger portion. So I was fine with going with the regular pasta. Gia recommended I use some sun-dried tomatoes next time, and I think that would be a fine addition. Maybe some pine nuts as well.

Guys...this sounds too healthy, but it was really, really, really freakin' good.

Do it to it.


Unknown said...

Sounds good. Cutting out the richer ingredients doesn't always mean cutting back on the taste. Another tip that I use to cut back on the fats, salt, cholestrol etc is cook smaller portions and drink more water.

Heff said...

I usually go with Chicken Statutory when trying to lay off beef.

Verdant Earl said...

Chef - Portion control and lots of h2o have been a big part of our new lifestyle as well. Seems to be working too.

Heff - Chicken Statutory? Can't you get 20 years for that?

savannah said...

it's almost 2am, i'm sitting in a hotel room and thinking how i would make this today if i wee at home! gonna try this when we're in lalaland with the coconut krewe! *cheers* xoxox

Kat said...

Merry christmas Earl!

Unknown said...

The zest! I love it.