Friday, July 13, 2012

Pasta Primavera Herb Flop

Sometimes I cook something that's just not that great. This is one of those dishes. However, I think the problem was really in the herbs. Herbs can impart so much flavor, but if you add the wrong ones, it ruins everything. So I think this is still a recipe worth sharing, but I also think that if you want to cook this, you should change the herbs. Basil or parsley would be wonderful. Stay away from chives and especially peppermint.
They are pretty, though aren’t they? These are herbs from our old garden in Indiana. I also used those huge asparagus from the Main Street farmer’s market in downtown Lafayette.
This is an America's Test Kitchen recipe, so it's heavy on the measurement and precision. Of course, I am not nearly this precise in my execution, so I made a few edits. I cook with what I’ve got on hand, and I didn’t have any white wine (drank it all) or vegetable stock (never buy it). So instead I used a bubbly from New York and homemade chicken stock. I refuse to believe these things could have possibly made the dish taste worse.
I was very excited about cooking the pasta using a method typically reserved for risotto. It gave the dish a wonderful creaminess without any added fats or dairy.

Overall, it tasted pretty good. The texture was lovely, and the veggies tasted fresh, but really, I don’t know why mint was ever a recommendation for an herb to add here. Keep your mint for tzatziki and mojitos.

Pasta Primavera (adapted from America's test kitchen)
3 large leeks
1 lb asparagus (1 bunch)
2 cups frozen peas, divided
4 gloves garlic, 2 crushed, 2 minced.
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup champagne
1 lb campanelle pasta
½ cup grated parmesan
Olive oil
Herbs of your choice

Prepare vegetables, but keep all the trimmings:
Cut off dark green parts of leeks.
Cut off bottom portion of asparagus.
Chop up and rinse trimmings.
In medium saucepan, combine stock and 1 cup of water. Add vegetable trimmings, two crushed garlic cloves, and 1 cup of frozen peas. Cook on medium, with lid on pot for 10 minutes until trimmings have flavored the stock. Strain veggies and put liquid back in pot and keep warm with lid on and at low heat.

Prepare the rest of the vegetables:
Cut up leeks and rinse.
Rinse the asparagus, and cut on the bias.
In large dutch oven, with olive oil, cook leeks over medium heat with lid on until they have wilted.
Stir regularly as to not let vegetables burn.
Add the asparagus, and cook until tender.
Add minced garlic and 1 cup of frozen peas. Cook until heated through and fragrant.
Remove vegetables from pot and set aside.

Cook up the pasta and sauce:
In dutch oven, over medium heat with olive oil, and add dry pasta and toast. (Just like you would risotto) Cook for about 5 minutes, until pasta is toasted, and brown in some spots.
Add champagne (or wine), and stir until absorbed by pasta. (Again, just like risotto).
Add broth that you’ve been keeping warm. Let the pasta cook for about 10 minutes or until cooked through. If you noticed that the pasta is getting dry, feel free to add more water.

Take pot off heat, add cheese, and combine. Add the cooked vegetables, and around 2 tablespoons of your favorite herbs.


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