There is a sense of pure Spring wonder that emanates from peas. The plump, verdant orbs burst with sweet earthiness, but not the kind of hard, dormant earthiness you get from beets. It is the lively, fresh kind that you can’t resist digging your fingers into. The same goes for asparagus. It’s bright and clean with the same earthy notes of broccoli. Peas and asparagus are tender and delicious. Both creamy. And both happen to complement each other (better than peas and carrots do in my opinion).
Despite their creaminess, they don’t overwhelm the palate like unmitigated butter fat… which makes them work well in the Fettuccine with Peas and Asparagus from my copy of the Williams-Sonoma Bride & Groom Cookbook. It’s a creaminess that supports the flavors and variety of the dish as a whole. I always really enjoy finding new ways to incorporate fresh produce into our dishes. It’s an easy way to make sure we’re actually eating our veggies instead of their languishing in the crisper only to be thrown away a week later untouched.
Springtime especially is the best time to start piling your plate with fresh veggies. It’s a good way to experiment through trial-and-error to find what you like and don’t like. This recipe was particularly a safe bet for eating veggies flung with something comforting and familiar like pasta tossed in a lemony cream sauce and kissed with ribbons of fragrant basil and salty Parmesan.
The one thing I did to send this dish slightly off-kilter was that I swapped out the familiar fettuccine with Explore Cuisine Black Bean & Sesame Fettuccine. I kept seeing exquisite images of things swirled in black, yes BLACK, pasta in the publications I like to read and look at on Instagram. Publications like Bon Appetít, Saveur, Food Network, and America’s Test Kitchen inspire me to search out new and unique products, ingredients, and recommendations. I don’t lean on them exclusively, but they are a valuable source of inspiration and reflection. Sometimes these inspirations hang out in the back of my mind for a few days before I act on them, sometimes it’s a couple years, but usually inspiration becomes a reality at some point.
The black bean fettuccine didn’t alter the dishes flavor profile in any significant way. It did add a subtle note of nuttiness and umami to the dish which worked well with the saltiness of the Parmesan. Any heaviness imparted by the black bean flavor was lightened by the tart sweetness of the Meyer lemon and the herby, slightly sweet fragrance of the fresh-torn basil. Every component of the dish harmonized together like a sweet symphony played directly from the garden.
The black bean fettuccine I’ll admit was a little bit more aggressive than your average semolina pasta, so I won’t judge if you choose not to go this route. For me, it was just a matter of trying something new and different in both taste and visual appeal. The gamble certainly paid off. It was fun for all senses involved. I don’t think I’ll be replacing all my pasta with this black bean pasta any time soon, but it was a fun change from the usual pasta.
What are your favorite spring vegetables?