Asparagus always heralds spring and a wonderful way to eat your veggies is to pile them into a big bowl of pasta. This dish is similar to the Italian recipe for “straw and hay,” which combines spinach and semolina pasta in a creamy sauce with pancetta and peas.
Straw and Hay is a favorite of mine and one of the best renditions I had of it was in Murano, the island in Venice where all the beautiful glass is made. This dish I made lacks spinach pasta and instead of heavy cream, it gains creaminess from feta cheese stirred into the sauce.
- Asparagus (1 bundle, trim by gently snapping off the weak part by gently pushing down in the middle with an index finger , then chop)
- Peas (I bag frozen)
- ¾ lb. ham (sliced at the deli at 1 and diced at home)
- yellow bell pepper (3)
- feta (1 package low-fat feta)
- carrot (1 large)
- artichoke (1 can quarters)
- sweet onion (half cup diced)
- garlic cloves (3 peeled, smashed and sliced)
- dried fettuccini (1 lb.)
Directions: Prep veggies and ham ahead of time and set aside. To get it started, heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven on low heat.
Dice carrot and toss in. Add chopped garlic and onion. Once the onion turns golden, fold in the chopped ham. Saute at medium heat until ham edges start to curl and brown, stirring from time to time.
Meanwhile, start a big pasta pot of water on the stove’s biggest burner on high heat. Then to the saucepan, add chopped asparagus and yellow pepper. Cover the pot. Take bag of frozen peas out and cook in microwave, according to bag directions.
Once these two veggies soften, add can of artichoke, including the juice. Heat through at medium-high heat. Pour in peas. Then stir in feta crumbles. Cover and heat through on low heat while you wait on the pasta water to boil. Once it reaches a roaring boil, throw in a dash of salt. Add a couple of drops of oil to the water. Then, place fettuccini in the water. Cook according to box directions. Drain cooked pasta and place in a huge pasta bowl and pour veggies and ham sauce over the top. Gently toss until mixed. Place servings in bowls and add to taste the following: salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
The most important part: enjoy. And enjoy the leftovers too!