Meatless Monday: Pasta Primavera

This pasta dish cut out all the cream normally associated with pasta primavera -- and if you want to go full vegan, just don't add any cheese at the end! All the creaminess in this America's Test Kitchen recipe comes from the combination of the vegetable broth and the toasted pasta. The herbs and white wine add all the flavor -- we promise you won't miss the meat.

Photo courtesy America's Test Kitchen
Pasta Primavera
Serves 4-6
3 medium leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise, washed, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (about 5 cups); reserve 3 cups roughly chopped dark green parts
1 pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off, chopped coarsely, and reserved; spears cut on bias into 1/2-inch-thick pieces
2 cups frozen baby peas, thawed
4 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 4 teaspoons)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon finely grated zest plus 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Table salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound campanelle
1 cup dry white wine
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus extra for serving
Ground black pepper

Place dark green leek trimmings, asparagus trimmings, 1 cup peas, 2 teaspoons garlic, vegetable broth, and water in large saucepan. Bring to simmer over high heat, then lower heat to medium-low and gently simmer 10 minutes. While broth simmers, combine mint, chives, and lemon zest in small bowl; set aside.

Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer into 8-cup measuring cup, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible (you should have 5 cups broth; add water as needed to measure 5 cups). Discard solids and return broth to saucepan. Cover and keep warm over low heat.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add sliced leeks and pinch salt; cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until leeks begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add asparagus pieces and cook until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add remaining 2 teaspoons garlic and pepper flakes; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add remaining cup peas and continue to cook 1 minute. Transfer vegetables to plate and set aside. Wipe out pot.

Heat remaining 4 tablespoons oil in now-empty Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add pasta and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 2 minutes.

When wine is fully absorbed, add hot broth. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil. Cook, stirring frequently, until most of liquid is absorbed and pasta is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove pot from heat, stir in lemon juice, Parmesan, half of herb mixture, and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, passing Parmesan cheese and remaining herb mixture separately.

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About the Author

Katherine's role as the Living editor at KCET.org keeps her running from farms to markets to restaurants to pop-up swaps all over SoCal. She's been living in and writing about this area for over a decade.
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