Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Its all been done before...Spring vegetable pasta with feta

It seems that pretty much everyone has done some kind of spring vegetable dish by now. And inspired by all the leading runners, I have finally gotten out of the starting gate with a weeknight recipe that only takes about 20 minutes to make. It is also quite delicious and pretty good for you too, as long as you don't overload it with cheese.

Spring Vegetable Pasta with Feta
While I availed myself of frozen peas and young Lima beans in my freezer, you can certainly use fresh if you prefer and I am sure the result would be even more sublime. Feeds about 6.

About 2 cups dry whole wheat fusilli pasta

About 2 cups broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces

About 1 cup baby Lima beans (fresh or frozen)

About 1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)

About 2 ounces of good quality feta (I used a sun-dried tomato feta from my farmers market)

2-3 tablespoons capers

1/4-1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

A splash or two of white wine (I used a cabernet sauvignon)

About 1/2 tablespoon of good quality olive oil (or to taste)

salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

A sprinkle of red pepper flakes (optional)


1. Set one large and one small pot of water to boil. When they do, put the pasta in the large pot and cook it al dente. It will get a few minutes more cooking time later on, so you don't want it to be too soft. Toss the Lima beans and peas into the other pot. If they are frozen they should both need about 10-12 minutes of cooking time. Otherwise, cook the fresh beans and peas until tender, which should take less time than with the frozen version.

2. Once the pasta is cooked, strain it and leave it in the colander. Drain the beans and peas as well, and reserve. Heat a couple tablespoons of water in the pasta pot and dump in the broccoli. Cover the lid on medium low and let the broccoli steam for a couple minutes. Open the lid and stir, letting the water evaporate. Turn the heat to medium low.

3. Add the beans and peas to the broccoli, then add a couple glugs of white wine and about half a tablespoon of good quality olive oil (or more if you so desire). Toss the vegetables and then add the fusilli pasta, the salt and black pepper and the red pepper flakes, if desired.

4. Stir for a minute or two, then add the parsley, capers and feta cheese, breaking it up into little pieces as you dump it in. Toss everything over medium low heat until the cheese has melted a bit and coated the pasta and vegetables. Add a swig more of wine if desired, stir until thoroughly mixed, and serve.

This is delicious fresh but it also can keep for up to a week in a closed container in the fridge, and when reheated in the microwave makes a nice workday lunch. Personally I really like the meaty feel and satisfying flavour of the Lima beans combined with the sharpness of the capers and feta.

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