|Ravioli with Spring Vegetables|
Presto Pasta Nights is celebrating it's 3rd Birthday. This is certainly a HUGE milestone in the blogosphere and something to celebrate!!!! I try and join in on the fun whenever I have pasta over at Presto Pasta Nights. There are so many pasta shapes and possibilities that I could easily have pasta every day of the year. I want to have pasta every day of the year!!!! I missed out on that New Year resolution. Presto Pasta Nights event has been the baby of Ruth over at Once Upon a Feast for 3 glorious years. Whenever we feel the urge for some pasta we can go over to her site and have 3 years of entries from all over the world to choose from from pasta salad to lasagna to pho. To show my support I have brought a Spring pasta dish since all that the season has to offer is just around the corner. It's time to give winter "the boot"!!!!!
I saw my first Robin a few weeks ago and to me this is always the first sign of Spring. The garden centre opened yesterday so that is the second sign. Did you see me there picking up some colourful pansies and primrose to plant in my pots?
Spring is when everything seems to come alive!!!!! The days are longer and the markets begin to burst with the colours of the bountiful fruits and vegetables of the season. For those who are lucky enough to live near a farmers market as I am, we would be hard pressed not to be aware of which fruits are at the peak of their season. Pods of fresh peas and stalks of beautifully green asparagus will cook beautifully in a sauce of lemon zest, butter, mint and tossed with pappardelle or fettucini noodles. This is the time to enjoy fresh rhubarb, sweet garden peas and furled fiddleheads . It is the season for escarole and a wide variety of lettuce handplucked from the garden for green salads. I am chomping at the bit and may even plant mesclun on my patio. The delightful fragrance of chives, mint, chervil and tarragon fill the air to season your dishes. All of these tastes of Spring are bursting from our gardens, forests, markets and window boxes.
The beauty of cooking with ingredients that are freshest in the Spring months are their pure simplicity. The standout flavours are the fresh, natural ingredients themselves... the sweet taste of a carrot or the pop of a freshly shelled pea. This pasta dish creates a pesto-like sauce of frozen peas. This is an excellent way to rush Spring since fresh garden peas are not ready quite yet. I did say I was chomping at the bit!!!The subtle Spring flavour of garden mint makes me want to eat this every day!!!!Throw in some Spring vegetables like asparagus, snow peas or sugar snap peas and some tender baby spinach and you have a winner!!!
**Ravioli with Spring Vegetables**
2 packages (9 oz. each) cheese-filled ravioli or tortellini
2 -1/2 cups frozen petite peas, thawed
2 cups fat-skimmed chicken broth
2 - 1/4 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves, rinsed
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves, rinsed
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon olive or salad oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 bunch thin asparagus, cut on deep bias (angle)
1 cup sugar snap peas
3 - 4 big handfuls baby spinach, washed (any stems removed - optional)
Salt and fresh-ground pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan
In a blender or food processor, purée peas, broth, 2 cups basil leaves, and mint leaves.
In a 3- to 4-quart pan over medium-high heat, stir or shake pine nuts until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside.
Un same pan. add oil and garlic to pan; stir just until garlic begins to brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add pea mixture and stir until steaming.
Into an extra-large pot of well-salted boiling water add the raviolis. After a few minutes, when a couple of the raviolis begin to float, add the asparagus and sugar snap peas. Because the asparagus is thin and the peas aren't frozen, you'll need to cook them only for about a 3 minutes or less - really quick, just enough to brighten up the peas and give the asparagus a touch of tenderness.
Drain everything into a large colander. Immediately add ravioli and Spring vegetable mixture mixture to the pan with pureed pea and basil mixture. Add spinach and stir to coat all ingredients. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and sea salt. Serve in a big bowl or on a simple platter with a bit of shaved Parmesan on top.
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