It’s unusual to find a light, vegetable-inspired recipe on the Cook’s Illustrated website, so I was intrigued when I saw their recent recipe for a spring pasta dish with leeks, asparagus, peas, mint, chive, and lemon. The ingredient list sounded delicious, and the technique was interesting as well. They toast the pasta in the oil and then cook it in a small amount of liquid, like risotto. The sauce is made from just vegetable broth, a moderate amount of olive oil, and white wine, and they claim it is “light but lustrous and creamy”. Supposedly the starch from the pasta helps it thicken up.
This recipe was more work than I anticipated. After prepping all the vegetables (which takes a while) you combine the vegetable broth and trimmings. While it simmers you sauté the vegetables in stages in a large Dutch oven. Then you toast the pasta, add the wine, and then cook the pasta for 8 to 10 minutes, until it absorbs almost all the liquid. Then the cooked vegetables go in along with the herbs, lemon zest, lemon juice and a touch of parmesan.
I thought the dish was disappointing. There just wasn’t enough flavor. Plus, as usual, the pasta to vegetable ratio was too high for Derek and I. Derek’s parents seemed to really enjoy it though. Between the four of us we finished almost the entire dish (which included a whole pound of pasta, a pound of asparagus, 2 cups of peas, and 3 leeks).