09 May 2013

Springtime Pasta - Farfalle with Chicken and Spring Vegetables

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?  

Springtime Pasta
Farfalle with Chicken and Spring Vegetables

(Serves 4)

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.  


Cranberry Morning said...

I'm saving the recipe, Jean. It looks delicious!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Judy! Hope you like it as much as we do.

Richard Sheppard said...

You're right, this looks like spring on a plate. I'm going to have to give this one a try. Looks delicious!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Richard, thank you! And I forgot to mention that the wine I used was a California sauvignon blanc, my most frequently used cooking wine.

Melanie said...

I wish all the brands would get together and decide on package sizes they would all use! THIS! Sooooo this!

I am going to try this one. It sounds delicious, and it is just right for my cooking difficulty level. :)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Melanie! And be sure to let me know how it turns out for you. It reheats beautifully, too, except the green vegetables don't stay that lovely bright green.

Unknown said...

Spring on a plate for sure! I love pasta dishes like this.. I could eat it every day!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Jenn. I could, too!

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

Packaging/pricing scams – pet peeves indeed! Fractional and metric weights, watered-down ingredients, eliminating processing steps and charging more as if the natural product somehow costs more than the one with salt and sweeteners added, these are all cynical ploys I try not to reward. Take an industry like yogurt which downsized from 8 ounces to 6 but didn’t cut the price by that margin and gradually elevated it pass the original price. Or the corrupt juice industry. Until the “Simply” brand revolutionized things by introducing a full strength product in OJ and others, the rest of that industry had us locked into their diluted substitute. When people flocked to “Simply” even though it costs more, all the other brands tripped all over themselves trying to put out a competing product. I’ll stay loyal to “Simply” as long as they continue to put out an honest product at an honest price.

Charles said...

I love fresh dill! It's really common in Sweden (one of the most used herbs I think) but conversely quite difficult to get in England. I was talking to my mother about and she's not even that familiar with it (can you believe it?!). I actually made something like this the other day - I hacked a recipe I saw in a cookbook and added tilapia, mozzarella, some farfalle of course (because I love that shape) and the dill - was really nice so I can imagine how yummy this one would be too!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Good points, Sully! And I thought of another one -- ice cream. Does anyone make a half gallon anymore?

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Charles, thank you! And do get your mother started with some dill -- I can't believe it's not hugely popular in England as it is so perfect in egg mayonnaise sandwiches!

Mary said...

This looks delicious, Jean. I've been using less and less pasta in my recipes and I noticed the other day that it was getting ridiculous. When the pasta sizes have shrunk to 10-12 ounces (in some GF pasta cases 8 ounces) and I'm used to cooking only half a package. It's laughable at times.

Luckily, I like an overabundance of vegetables most of the time to balance the pasta. However, 4-5 ounces for 5 people is a stretch even for me! ha Guess I should get in the habit of looking at the package size prior to just deciding to use half of it.