It’s been four years and I’m still having a hard time adjusting to the seasons in the Pacific Northwest. I’m used to strawberries starting in late January, asparagus starting in April and lasting nearly to the fall, stone fruit starting in May, and then being socked in by June gloom. But if there’s one benefit to the long, cool spring we get in the Pacific Northwest, it’s an extended window to enjoy peas. Long after the southern climes are into their tomatoes, we’re still enjoying sugar snaps, English shelling peas, and snow peas. And when those sugar snaps are fresh — they’re sweet and crunchy…and there’s nothing like ’em.
Before diving in to this recipe, taste the sugar snaps. If they’re straight from the farmers market (or a day or two later), they’ll hardly need cooking and the quick saute in the pan will do the job. If they’re from the grocery, they may be just a little starchy and need to be blanched along with the asparagus.
This simple pasta takes advantage of those lovely sugar snap peas and it’s perfect for a weeknight meal. Started with a few slices of speck (smoked prosciutto), it has the smoky saltiness of bacon in a thinner, quicker cooking slice. The vegetables take just a few minutes more than the pasta itself. It’s spring through and through. Let’s enjoy it before we give ourselves over to summer.
Spring Penne with Sugar Snaps and AsparagusPrint Recipe
- 1/2 lb. whole wheat penne
- 3 T. kosher salt
- 1/4 lb. sugar snap peas, stem ends and strings removed
- 6-8 asparagus spears, pencil thin
- 6 slices of speck, diced
- 1 T. olive oil
- 1 c. parmesan cheese, grated (+ more for serving)
- 1 lemon, zested (save the lemon for drizzling each serving w/ juice)
- salt & pepper
Prepare an ice bath in a medium bowl.
Bring a large stock pot of water to a boil and add 3 T. salt. Add the asparagus and cook for 3-4 minutes until bright green and just tender. Blanch it in the ice bath. Cut asparagus into 2 in. pieces and set aside. Bring water back to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.
While the pasta is cooking, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and speck and cook until crispy. Add the cooked pasta, sugar snap peas and asparagus to the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the peas are bright green, but still a little crunchy. Mix in the parmesan until the noodles are coated evenly. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the lemon zest. Taste and season with salt (and pepper, if desired).
Drizzle each serving with a squeeze of lemon and more parm to taste.
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