Lemony Spring Pasta with Asparagus, Smoked Prosciutto & Peas
What ingredients do you need to make this Pasta?
- Pasta: I like using a shorter pasta like gigli, penne, fusilli, gemelli, or even orecchiette, but longer pastas like spaghetti, linguine, or bucatini would be great here too.
- Asparagus: nothing says spring more than asparagus! You can use thin or thick stalked asparagus, both work well here. If you do use thicker stalks the asparagus will end up being slightly more al dente, or you can just cook it slightly longer. I love crunchy vegetables, so I always try to cook them until they are just cooked, with a bite.
- Peas: fresh, shucked English peas are fantastic, so use them if you can find them. Trader Joes sells 10oz bags of them, and you can often find them at Farmers Markets throughout the spring and summer. You can also use frozen peas here and the pasta will still be delicious.
- Lemon: adding the zest of the lemon adds a lot of brightness and flavor, because the natural oils in the lemon skin are where the majority of the actual lemon flavor are. Don’t add the lemon juice until the end because the acid will turn the asparagus and peas an ugly brown very quickly.
- Garlic: I love garlic, and obviously this is a pasta recipe, so it’s kind of a necessity. It helps to bring balance to the dish. But you can easily omit it if you don’t like garlic.
- Onion: I like using red onion for this recipe because it adds a sweet note, plus a pretty light purple color once cooked. If you don’t like onions, you can easily omit the onion.
- Pecorino: made from sheep’s milk, Pecorino is saltier than Parmesan and it has a slightly earthy flavor, which I love in this recipe. But Parmesan would be fantastic too. You might just have to adjust the salt levels a bit.
- Basil: basil adds so much flavor to this dish, with its hints of mint, anise and pepper, but other springy herbs would be delicious too. Tarragon, thyme, dill or even mint would be lovely.
This pasta screams spring with asparagus, English peas, a bright, light, lemony sauce, plenty of Pecorino and basil. I like to add smoked prosciutto, or speck, at the end, but you can easily omit it if you’re not into pork. The pasta is delicious warm or at room temperature, and it also makes great leftovers.
- 3/4 lb pasta of your choice, I used Gigli shape for this but any pasta would do
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 lb asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1/4 inch coins with tips left intact
- 10 oz English peas, fresh or frozen (I used @traderjoes fresh English peas)
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 1 cup finely grated Pecorino, plus more for grating on top
- 1 lemon (I used a pink lemon for this recipe, but any lemon will do)
- 5 oz thinly sliced prosciutto (I used Trader Joes smoked prosciutto for this recipe, but speck or any other prosciutto would do)
- Salt & pepper
- Fresh basil
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta following the instructions, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1½ cups of the pasta water and set aside. In a large saucepan add the butter, onions and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until soft and slightly translucent. Add the asparagus, peas and ½ cup of the pasta water and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the lemon zest and 1 teaspoon salt and give it a stir, then add the pasta, Pecorino and remaining pasta water. Simmer for a minute or two. Tear the prosciutto into pieces and stir most of it into the pasta. Divide the pasta between serving bowls. Top with the extra prosciutto, a generous squeeze of lemon, freshly grated Pecorino and basil sprigs.