This vegetarian pasta primavera is loaded with tender spring vegetables and herbs and topped with a tangy lemon ricotta. It’s a tried-and-true weeknight dinner recipe the entire family loves.
It’s Friday! Thank freakin’ goodness because it has been one of those weeks.
Kid: Mom, when can we use the Star Wars ice cube tray again?
Me: Good timing! I just washed it, so I’ll fill it up when it dries.
Kid (with snark): Um…why does it have to dry?
Me (with equal snark): Um…because it’s wet?
Kid: Mommy…ice is made from water. I think you can go ahead and make the ice now.
I turn on the shower this morning. After waiting a moment for the water to heat up, I step into an ice cold shower. I turn up the hot water…still freezing. Commence freak-out that the relatively brand-new water heater has died. And then lightbulb – I’ve been turning up the COLD tap, not the HOT. <facepalm>
These are two examples of many that illustrate how my week has gone. Too tired to rub two brain cells together. One of those weeks where I need a coffee before I can make my coffee.
Of course, this is
partially mostly my fault. Because the baby has started to (mostly) sleep through the nigh (huzzah!), I chose to stay up entirely too late binge-watching The West Wing on Monday and Tuesday, and then The Handmaid’s Tail on Wednesday and Thursday. I am my own worst enemy.
Tonight I’ll be eliminating the remainder of my functioning brain cells by cheers-ing to the freakin’ weekend with a big glass of wine and a comforting bowl of this spring pasta.
Luckily for me (and perhaps for you too!) this is an easy, healthy, tried-and-true recipe to reach for in my time of need. This spring pasta primavera is loaded with mushrooms, peas, and spinach and and serve with a tangy lemon ricotta. It’s stupid easy, packed with flavor, and a recipe the entire family loves.
Spring Pasta Primavera Recipes Notes
This spring pasta recipe is packed with loads of delicious seasonal veggies and herbs – tender peas, baby spinach, crimini mushrooms, and lots of fresh mint and thyme. It’s rich and buttery, with a sweet, tangy kick. My family gobbled this down without complaint and I totally feel like Mom of Year.
I love orecchiette for this spring pasta recipe because the shape provides a nice little cup for the peas. I know that’s weird, but indulge me and give it a try. Or don’t and use whatever pasta suits your preference.
I use peas and mushrooms because I love them, but tender stalks of asparagus would be delicious too. Slice the asparagus into 1-2″ pieces and then blanch them for 3 minutes in the pasta water along with the peas – they’ll be perfect.
If you need a little protein in your life, go ahead and add some grilled chicken or sauté up some mild Italian sausage.
The real, true magic in this dish is this herby lemon ricotta. It’s TO DIE FOR delicious. Pro tip: double the batch and the leftovers to make ricotta toast for breakfast the next day with some pan seared asparagus and a fried egg. You’re welcome.
Ricotta didn’t make the cut for the Spring quarter of my Minimalist Foodie Challenge. So what’s a girl to do? Make it at home. You too can make your own ricotta from just a few simple ingredients – whole milk, salt, and lemon juice. The texture and flavor of homemade ricotta is absolutely unmatched, and it only takes 15 minutes. I’ve got a step-by-step tutorial for homemade ricotta right here.
Spring Pasta Primavera with Lemon Ricotta
- 1 tbsp mint chopped and muddled
- 8 oz fresh ricotta
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- 1 tbsp unfiltered extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp butter divided
- 1 leek or shallot thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves smashed
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 lb orecchiette or your pasta of choice
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 2 tbsp butter
- 16 oz wild mushrooms sliced
- 4 c. baby spinach
- fresh mint to taste
- fresh thyme to taste
- kosher salt
- fresh cracked pepper
- 1 lemon juiced
- fresh parmesan
Bring a pot of water to a boil; meanwhile, prepare the lemon ricotta. Finely chop the mint and muddle to release its oils. In a small bowl, add the mint, lemon zest and lemon juice to the ricotta and whip with a small whisk. Refrigerate until ready to serve to allow the flavors to meld.
Once the pasta water comes to a boil, add salt and pasta and cook according to package directions. Three minutes before the pasta is set to finish cooking, add the peas to the boiling water and pasta. Drain pasta and peas and immediately toss with sauce (see below)
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. Heat a sauce pan over medium high heat. Add one tablespoon of butter to the pan and heat until it foams; and shallots or leeks and sauté, stirring the pan continuously, until the alliums are soft and just browning around the edges (4-6 minutes). Add garlic and cook until fragrant (1 minute). Deglaze the pan with the white wine, and then add the final two tablespoons of butter. Cook over medium heat until the sauce is reduced by half (3 minutes or so).
Pour sauce over the pasta and peas (if ready) or set aside into a small bowl and wipe out the pan. Bring the pan back to medium heat and add pine nuts; toast, shaking the pan continuously, until browned and fragrant (2-3 minutes). Remove pine nuts from heat and add to the pasta and peas. Add two tablespoons of butter to the pan and heat until it foams; add the mushrooms and sauté until browned around the edges. Sauté in 2 batches if necessary to ensure crispy, browned mushrooms.
Once the mushrooms are fully cooked, gently fold spinach into mushrooms, and cook until just wilted (about a minute).
Fold mushrooms and spinach into the pasta, peas and sauce. Add the juice of 1 lemon plus fresh mint and thyme, salt and pepper, to taste (I used about 3 tablespoons of mint and 1 tablespoon of thyme). Toss the pasta lightly to incorporate.
Serve immediately, topped with a dollop of lemony ricotta and parmesan cheese.