Spring Forward With Garden Fresh Vegetables

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Warm springtime breezes are energizing. When veggies and herbs emerge, it’s time to fully come out of hibernation. Revive your taste buds while enjoying fresh nutrients for the active seasons ahead.

Spring is asparagus season, when it’s of highest quality and most affordable. Unleash your seasonal energy with this fresh, nutrient-rich pasta dish. The risotto technique for the pasta flavors it with enriched vegetable broth.

Spring Vegetable Pasta with Shrimp

Spring Vegetable Pasta with Shrimp

Serves 6 – 8

°3 medium leeks

°1 pound asparagus

°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

°½ teaspoon finely grated zest plus 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon

°6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

°¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

°1 ½ pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined

°Italian-style breadcrumbs

°1 pound pasta (campanelle, farfalle or penne)

°1 cup dry white wine

°1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus extra for serving

°Salt and ground black pepper

  1. Cut the dark green part of the leeks off and wash out any soil. Roughly cut 3 cups and place in a Dutch oven. Wash asparagus and cut or snap off tough ends and add to pot, along with 1 cup peas, 2 teaspoons garlic, vegetable broth, and water. Bring to simmer over high heat, then lower heat to medium-low and gently simmer for at least 10 minutes. While broth simmers, combine mint, chives, and lemon zest in small bowl.
  2. Strain broth into a bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. You will need 5 cups and may add water if needed.
  3. Wash out any soil from the white part of the leeks and cut into ½” slices. Cut asparagus into ½” pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven over medium-low to medium heat. Add sliced leeks and cook, covered, stirring often, until leeks begin to brown. 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.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 450°. Coat the shrimp with breadcrumbs and place on a sheet pan that’s sprayed or coated with oil. Spray the top of the shrimp.
  5. Heat remaining 4 tablespoons oil in now-empty Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add pasta and cook, stirring to coat. Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed.
  6. When wine is fully absorbed, add warm broth. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil. Cook, stirring frequently, until most of liquid is absorbed and pasta is tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
  7. While pasta is cooking, place shrimp in oven and set timer for 4 minutes, then check for doneness. It is easy to overcook.
  8. Once pasta is tender, remove pot from heat, stir in lemon juice, Parmesan, half of herb mixture, and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste. For each plate, top with shrimp, Parmesan cheese and remaining herb mixture.

Margie Mansure is an extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension. As a registered dietitian/nutritionist chef, she offers nutrition and cooking classes to community members. margie_mansure@ncsu.edu