Tastefood: Time for a pasta ‘spring fling’ | Don’t Miss This

Morels, asparagus and peas team up in this quintessential springtime pasta dish.

Earthy mushrooms marry well with early asparagus and sweet peas. Famously delicious in sauces, risottos and pasta, these ingredients require little else except a nap of cream and a sprinkling of cheese to bind them together, resulting in an easy yet elegant seasonal meal.

In this recipe, chicken stock joins in, adding flavor and lightening up the rich sauce. Blanched and peeled fava beans are equally delicious and can be substituted for the peas. If you are unable to find fresh morel mushrooms, which are fleeting and pricey, dried ones will do.

Simply reconstitute the dried mushrooms in hot water for 15 minutes, then strain. Discard the soaking liquid.

Linguine with asparagus, morels and peas

Active time: 30 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Yield: Serves 4

8 ounces asparagus, tough ends trimmed, stalks cut in 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup shelled fresh peas (see note)

12 ounces linguine

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 pound fresh morel mushrooms, cleaned, halved lengthwise (or 1 ounce dried morels, reconstituted in hot water)

Kosher salt

1 garlic clove, minced

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup packed finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling

Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and shelled fresh peas and blanch until the vegetables are bright green in color and crisp-tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon or spider strainer and refresh under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

Bring the water back to a boil. Add the linguine and cook for 1 minute less than package instructions for al dente. Set aside 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and drain the pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter with the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the morels and season with a generous pinch of salt. Saute until the morels are tender, 2 to 3 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds more. Pour in the cream and stock. Simmer until slightly thickened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in half of the cheese until melted and the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes more.

Add the asparagus, peas and drained pasta to the skillet and warm over medium-low heat for about 1 minute, stirring and tossing constantly to combine. If the pasta is too dry, add a little reserved cooking liquid. Divide the pasta between serving bowls. Grind black pepper over the bowls and serve with the remaining cheese for sprinkling.

Note: Defrosted frozen peas may be substituted for the fresh peas. If using defrosted frozen peas, do not blanch with the asparagus. Simply add the peas to the cream sauce with the asparagus and pasta.

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