Springtime in a bowl! Put those seasonal vegetables to use. I adapted this recipe from a Mario Batali pasta dish. The amount of pasta was decreased and the amount of vegetables and garlic were increased. I also added fresh thyme from my garden.
Plan this meal for tomorrow, but go to the store and roast the vegetables today. Let your oven do the work while you are occupied with daily tasks, exercising, or watching your favourite show. It will make tomorrow night’s meal a cinch! Cooking is easy, but like all good things, prioritizing and planning is crucial.
- 2 pounds of broccolini, stems halved lengthwise
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds yellow and red grape tomatoes
- 8 green onions, cut into 1-inch lengths
- 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch lengths
- ¾ pound pappardelle pasta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- ½ cup shaved ricotta salata cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the broccolini and garlic with ¼ cup olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Spread evenly on a baking sheet.
- In the same bowl, toss the tomatoes with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and spread evenly on a baking sheet.
- Roast for about 20 minutes, until the broccolini is tender and blackened in spots and the tomatoes are blistered and very juicy.
- In a large pot of boiling water, cook the green onions until just softened, about a minute, then remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to the large bowl. Reserve the water.
- Add the asparagus to the pot with the reserved water and cook until just crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer the asparagus to the bowl with a slotted spoon. Reserve the water again adding more water if necessary for cooking the pasta. Bring to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dente.
- Drain the pasta and reserve ½ cup of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot.
- Add the vegetables, butter, crushed red pepper, half of the parsley, and thyme. Add the reserved pasta water.
- Gently add the roasted tomatoes and juices. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with cheese and sprinkle with parsley. Makes 6 reasonable portions.
Serve this spring induced dish with a crisp Italian white, unless you are a bigger fan of red like I am. I opened a kickin’ bottle of Black Chicken Zinfandel from Napa based Robert Biale Vineyards. This juice is thick and gnarly, just like their vines.
Movie night suggestion: A painfully beautiful film that makes poverty look picturesque, transforming hardship into a spring time fairytale. The characters in award-winning Three Seasons (1999) cross paths in small ways around flowers and kindness. Filmed entirely in Vietnam, an American (Harvey Keitel) in Ho Chi Minh City looks for a daughter he fathered during the war. During his search, he meets Woody, a young street vendor who accuses him of stealing his wares. A cyclo driver falls in love with a pretty hotel call girl and tries to break through her sharp thorns. A young woman takes a job harvesting lotuses in the pond of a recluse. Her singing awakens him from depression, and he asks her to write down poetry he has composed. A beautiful first film by Tony Bui with all the sweet sentiment of a Chaplin.
Film notes: This is the first American film to be made in Vietnam after Bill Clinton lifted the embargo. The filmmakers were followed by Vietnamese inspectors throughout filming.
Harvey Keitel was cast as Captain Willard in Apocalypse Now but was replaced by Martin Sheen after the first week of filming. In Three Seasons, he sits in a bar called Apocalypse Now (written in the same font as the film).