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Essential Spring Pastas

April 25, 2014

Spring produce and bright, light flavors take center stage in these fresh pasta dishes, from spaghetti tossed with morels and asparagus to orecchiette with broccoli rabe and tangy goat cheese. 

See more: Our Favorite Spring Pastas

Morel and Asparagus Spaghetti

In this bright spring pasta dish of morels, asparagus, and cream, dried morels are rehydrated in boiling water that is then used to cook spaghetti—infusing the pasta with an earthy, mushroomy flavor.

Serves 6


½ oz. dried morel mushrooms (about 5 mushrooms)
1 lb. spaghetti
¼ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 medium shallots, finely chopped
1 bunch asparagus (1 pound), ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
¾ cup vegetable stock
½ cup heavy cream
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving


1. Place morels and 8 cups boiling water in a bowl, set aside until morels are tender, about 30 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to a cutting board and slice in half lengthwise.

2. Pour soaking liquid into a large stockpot, discarding any dirt or sediment at the bottom. Add additional water sufficient to cook pasta, bring to a boil. Season water with salt, add spaghetti; cook, stirring, until al dente, about 13 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat oil and butter in a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and shallots; cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 4 minutes. Add reserved morels, plus asparagus and stock, bring to a boil. Cook, covered, until asparagus is tender, about 3 minutes. Uncover, add cream, cook until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.

4. Remove from heat and add pasta, juice, zest, salt, pepper, and cheese. Toss until evenly combined. Drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with more cheese, if you like.

See more: Beautiful Spring Desserts

Pasta with Grilled Artichokes

Baby artichokes, dressed with olive oil and garlic, take center stage in this lemony dish.

Serves 4


1 lb. (about 10) baby artichokes with stems, trimmed and halved lengthwise, tough outer leaves discarded
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ lb. spaghetti
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ tsp. crushed red chile flakes
4 cloves garlic, minced
⅔ cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley


1. Put artichokes, 2 tbsp. lemon juice, and 6 cups water in a 4-quart saucepan. Boil, reduce heat, and simmer until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain artichokes; transfer to a medium bowl; toss with 4 tbsp. oil and salt and pepper. Heat a 12” grill pan over high heat. Place artichokes cut side down on grill pan and cook until tender, 6 minutes per side. Return grilled artichokes to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap; set aside.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add pasta; cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 6-7 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta water; set aside. Heat remaining oil and 3 tbsp. butter in a 12” skillet over medium heat; add chile flakes and garlic and cook, stirring, until garlic is soft, 4-5 minutes. Add remaining lemon juice along with zest, cooked pasta, and ½ cup Parmesan and toss together, adding reserved pasta water as needed to create a smooth sauce. Stir in remaining butter and parsley and season with salt and pepper. To serve, divide pasta evenly between four bowls and top with artichokes; garnish with Parmesan and parsley.

See more: Simple Spring Entrées

Orecchiette with Rapini and Goat Cheese

Slightly bitter rapini (also known as broccoli rabe), marries well with the tangy goat cheese in this dish.

Serves 2–4


Kosher salt, to taste
1 bunch rapini (about 1 lb.), roughly chopped
1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, crushed
3⁄4 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
12 oz. orecchiette 
2 tbsp. lemon zest
4 oz. goat cheese, softened


1. Bring an 8-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Add rapini and boil until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer rapini to a large bowl of ice water; chill. Drain rapini, pat dry, and set aside.

2. Heat oil in a 12” skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 3 minutes. Add chile flakes and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 seconds. Add rapini, toss, and remove pan from heat; set aside.

3. Meanwhile, bring a 6-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain pasta and transfer pasta and lemon zest to reserved skillet over high heat. Toss to combine and season with salt. Divide pasta between bowls and add a dollop of goat cheese to each.

See More: The Ultimate Spring Produce Guide

Garganelli with Peas and Prosciutto

This creamy dish calls for quill-shaped garganelli, though penne will work just as well.

Serves 4–6


Kosher salt, to taste
1 lb. garganelli or penne
2 cups heavy cream
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen peas
½ cup grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper
4 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, serrano, or country ham, torn into strips
1 cup fresh mint leaves, torn


1. Bring a 6-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving ¼ cup pasta water.

2. Meanwhile, boil the cream in a 12” skillet over high heat until reduced by half, about 8 minutes. Add the pasta with the peas and cook, tossing occasionally, until the sauce begins to cling to the pasta, about 2 minutes. Add the Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper. Add the reserved pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Fold in the prosciutto and mint.

See More: Our Best Rhubarb Recipes

Trenette al Pesto (Trenette with Pesto, Green Beans, and Potatoes)

This classic Genoese dish combines basil pesto with the region’s version of fettuccine, as well as string beans and potatoes.

Serves 4


3 cups packed basil

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tbsp. finely grated parmesan

2 tbsp. finely grated pecorino

2 tbsp. pine nuts

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 lb. trenette or linguine pasta

Kosher salt, to taste

8 oz. haricots verts, trimmed

8 oz. baby red potatoes, roasted and halved


1. Make the pesto: Process basil, oil, cheeses, nuts, and garlic in a food processor until finely ground. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.

2. Bring a 6-qt. saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat; add pasta and cook, stirring, until half-cooked, about 5 minutes. Add haricots verts, and cook, stirring, until pasta is al dente and vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes more. Drain pasta and vegetables, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water, and transfer to a large bowl along with potatoes and pesto; toss to combine, adding a couple tablespoons reserved cooking water, if needed, to make a smooth sauce.

See More: 19 Spring Pastas