Monday, April 19, 2010

Pasta Primavera with Walnuts

In the photo, this dish doesn't look like it'd be very good.  Don't let the cover of this book deter you from trying this recipe -- it's good!

This recipe looked good to me except for the walnuts.  I took one for the team when I remembered Rodney had raved about a friend's mom in his teen years making delicious spaghetti with walnuts in it.  Yes, you read me right; it's not a typo: good spaghetti with walnuts in it.  If walnuts can be good in spaghetti, well, they must be damn good in pasta primavera.   

Pasta Primavera with Walnuts

8 oz. gemelli (short twisted pasta) or penne (tube-shaped pasta)
1 c diagonally sliced thin carrots (1/4 inch)
2 c diagonally sliced asparagus (1/4 inch)
1/2 c frozen small peas
1 (14-oz.) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 c chopped walnuts
1/3 c torn fresh basil
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2/3 c plus 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Cook pasta according to package directions, adding carrots during last 5 minutes of cooking.

Add asparagus and peas during last 3 minutes.

Add artichoke hearts during last 1 minute.

Drain, reserving 1/4 cup pasta cooking water. Return pasta and vegetables to pot, along with reserved pasta water.

Meanwhile, cook butter, oil and garlic in medium skillet over medium heat 30 seconds or until butter melts and garlic begins to sizzle.

Add walnuts; reduce heat to low. Cook and stir 5 minutes or until walnuts are lightly toasted.

Toss walnut mixture, basil, salt, pepper and 2/3 cup of the cheese with pasta.

Not too shabby! While I wasn't hot to trot over the walnuts, they didn't make the entire dish gross.  Walnuts were doable here.  If you HATE walnuts, they are easy enough to omit.  If you choose to skip them, remember to add a tad of butter and certainly remember the pasta water.  I can just imagine everything would be dry without the butter/oil combo.

Pretty straightforward too, eh?  Just a little bit of time management and everything comes together nicely.  This is another recipe where mise en place serves well. If you have everything lined up and ready to go, it's just about timing.  If you don't, you're in for a whirlwind of activity, some frustration and quite possibly disappointment with some-parts-overcooked and some-parts-undercooked dinner. Including time to boil the water, this recipe took just under an hour.

Overall, a decent recipe worth repeating.  I really liked that it's a primavera pasta dish that doesn't call for any dairy outside of cheese.  Thankfully, Rodney can handle some cheese!