09 May 2013
This is Spring on a Plate! I love spring, also known as Asparagus Season. Or Pea and Peapod Season. These are such a treat for me every spring because I refuse to buy the out-of-season imports the rest of the year. That's the thing I love most about seasonal cooking -- it restores the pleasure of anticipation! And no herb says "spring" quite like fresh dill. Those things were what I had in mind when I developed this recipe about ten years ago for a magazine column I was writing.
If you like pasta, you probably like any pasta shape at any time of the year. But, for some reason, when spring rolls around I think of farfalle (Italian for butterfly), also called bow-tie pasta. With spring vegetables and a little chicken in a subtle sauce, this one-dish spring meal takes just 45 minutes from start to finish.
This batch was a little too heavy on the pasta. The farfalle came in a 16-ounce, instead of 12-ounce, package and I wrongly decided to use it all. Next time that happens, I'll take out a fourth of the pasta and store it. I wish all the brands would get together and decide on package sizes they would all use! Which reminds me of something that really bugs me -- making packages smaller rather than raising prices. Does that bother you? Or do you have other pet peeves?
Farfalle with Chicken and Spring Vegetables
1 12-ounce package farfalle (bow-tie pasta), cooked according to package directions
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
Salt and coarsely-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely minced shallot
3/4 pound thin asparagus, cut into 1½-inch pieces
1/2 pound young sugar snap or Chinese pea pods
1 large red bell pepper, julienned
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream (I use Organic Valley)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (more if you really like it)
1/2 cup freshly grated (not shredded) Parmesan
1 Forty-five minutes before serving time, start heating 4 quarts water with a tablespoon of salt for cooking pasta. Prepare ingredients.
2 Five minutes before adding pasta to the boiling water, start sauce. In 12-inch skillet which has a lid, heat olive oil. Pat dry the chicken pieces and season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add to hot oil and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until browned, about 5 minutes.
3 Add minced shallot and continue cooking for a minute or two. Add wine and deglaze pan. Add asparagus (except tips), pea pods, red bell pepper and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cover and cook over medium heat until vegetables are nearly crisp-tender, about 2 or 3 minutes.
4 Uncover and stir in asparagus tips, cream and dill. Simmer gently for 2 minutes. Stir in Parmesan. Taste and adjust seasoning. Pour over hot, drained pasta. Mix well, divide onto four warm plates, and garnish with more dill and Parmesan.