We had a grand old time this winter, filling our hearts (and our stomachs!) with every conceivable combination of braised meat, melted cheese and flour-thickened roux we can think of. But as the days stretch longer, and the previously chilly nights get just a little bit warmer, we turn our attention to the lighter flavors of springtime … built on a still-hearty base of comforting, cozy noodles, when possible.
Our Spring Pea Pasta With Lemon and Mint capitalizes on the freshest flavors of the moment, celebrating the humble green pea that’s appearing at its peak in supermarket produce bins across the country right now. Of course, if you don’t feel like hulling all of those pea pods yourself (and who could blame you?) this recipe works almost equally well with a bag of the frozen kind.
The green pea has an impressive nutrition profile. Garden-variety green peas are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and salt. They are a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin B6, folate and magnesium. They are also an excellent source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, thiamin and manganese. According to the National Institutes of Health, peas may even be beneficial in the prevention of some types of cancer, thanks to their high concentration of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
Spring Pea Pasta With Lemon and Mint
- 10 oz green peas (fresh or frozen)
- 1 lb shell pasta
- 1/2 cup mint leaves, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lemon, juiced and zested
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup grated Parmesan, divided
- 1 cup fresh pea shoots
- 1 cup baby arugula
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fill a large saucepan with water, and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Add peas, and cook until bright green and heated through, about 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a bowl. Return water to a boil, and cook pasta and drain according to package directions.
While pasta cooks, combine cooked peas, half of the mint, garlic, lemon juice and lemon zest. Mash with a fork to break up some of the peas … some should remain whole, and some should be mashed up. Add heavy cream, and stir to incorporate. Add hot cooked pasta, along with half of the Parmesan, pea shoots and baby arugula. Toss to combine, then sprinkle with remaining grated Parmesan. Add salt and pepper, to taste.