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Farm Fresh: Pasta flies the green banner of spring

Thursday, June 06, 2002

By Betsy Kline, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Green is the bright banner of spring, whether it's the trees, the grass or the first vegetables of the season.

Today's Farm Fresh recipe, Spring Green Pasta, celebrates the crisp crunch of asparagus, green onions or scallions and, if you can find them, early fresh peas. But don't worry if you can't find early peas, tiny frozen sweet peas will do. We've adapted this wonderful recipe from the Silver Palate authors, Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. It originally called for fresh baby artichokes, which we're sure are delightful, but are also a lot of work when canned artichoke hearts make a tasty and simple substitution. Any shape macaroni works well if you can't find orecchiette -- we used cavatappi.

Spring Green Pasta

1 large can artichoke hearts in water, drained and cut in half if whole
6 thin asparagus spears, trimmed, cut in 1-inch pieces
8 ounces orecchiette pasta (little ears)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup chopped scallions (green onions)
2 cloves garlic, slivered
1/3 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted (we used plain black olives)
1/3 cup tiny green peas (3 ounces; if using frozen, thaw)
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add asparagus. Simmer for 3 minutes; then drain, reserving liquid. Rinse the asparagus under cold water and set it aside. (We steamed our cut asparagus instead.)

Bring a large pot of fresh, salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook at a rolling boil until just tender.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a saucepan. Saute the scallions and garlic for 3 minutes. Then stir in the olives, peas, asparagus and artichokes, remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, 1/3 cup of the reserved artichoke water (we used pasta cooking water instead) and 3 tablespoons of the Parmesan. Stir well, and cook until just heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water and transfer to a heated serving bowl.

Drain the pasta, toss it in the bowl with the sauce until well coated. Season with salt, pepper and the remaining 1 tablespoon of Parmesan. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from "The New Basics Cookbook" by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins

If you have a fruit or vegetable that you would like to see featured, please call food editor Suzanne Martinson at 412-263-1760 or e-mail us at aburnett@post-gazette.com. or bkline@post-gazette.com. We're also looking for easy-to-make, quick recipes that highlight the fabulous flavors of fresh produce. Send to Farm Fresh, PG Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

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