Spring brings all kinds of freshness to the garden and market. It’s always such a pleasant surprise when the first shoots of asparagus break ground and the spring greens flourish in the warmth of the spring sun. If you’re lucky enough to have the space to grow green peas, then you’ll love the bright flavor they bring to this dish, but frozen ones will certainly work well.
Adding those springtime flavors to the pasta pot is a welcomed treat. Gone are the heavy sausages and cream or tomato sauces of winter comfort, replaced instead by the light freshness of lemon, parsley and basil. Petit Jean Hickory Smoked bacon and ham are the perfect additions to make this almost a one-pot meal become a real family favorite.
This makes a large dish, generously serving 4 – 6. It can be halved, but it’s very good leftover as well. With all of the vegetables and greens, there’s little need for an extra salad or side dish. Serve with crusty garlic bread, if desired.
- 12 ounces mini-farfalle
- 5 slices thick-cut Petit Jean Meats Hickory Smoked Bacon
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 4 roasted garlic cloves (or 2 fresh), minced
- 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed, cut on the diagonal in 1-inch pieces
- 4 ounces baby portabellas, thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas (do not thaw)
- ½ cup grated Parmesan
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons prepared basil pesto
- fine zest of 1 lemon
- 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided use
- ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided use
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cups thinly sliced fresh spring greens (spinach, arugula, sorrel)
- 6-8 ounces thinly sliced Petit Jean Meats Hickory Smoked Peppered Ham (or leftover ham)
- 4 ounces grape tomatoes, halved
- kosher salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ cup shaved fresh Parmesan, as garnish
- minced chives, as garnish
- In a large cast iron skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp; set aside to drain on paper towels, reserving bacon fat.
- Add onion to skillet and sauté until tender. Add in garlic and cook 1 minute.
- Add asparagus and mushrooms to onion and garlic mixture, sauté 3-4 minutes.
- Meanwhile prepare pasta according to package directions, just until tender but still firm to bite. Drain, receiving 1 cup pasta water. Return pasta to pot.
- Add ½ cup grated Parmesan, heavy cream, olive oil, pesto, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Stir well.
- Chop bacon and add ½ to vegetable mixture.
- Stir in ½ of the parsley and ½ of the basil along with 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, stirring until butter is completely melted.
- Add pasta water 2 Tablespoons at a time, if needed to create a slightly creamy sauce.
- Add peas to asparagus mixture; sauté until just tender, about 2 minutes. You want the peas to retain their bright green color.
- Add vegetables to pasta, stirring well. Add in spring greens and sliced ham, stirring to heat through. Toss in halved tomatoes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve pasta garnished with parsley, basil, chopped bacon, minced chives and shaved Parmesan.
Growing up cooking at the knees of two grandmothers who fed large extended families and fed them well, Debbie Arnold early on developed a passion for creativity in the kitchen. A self-professed cookbook addict, food magazine junkie and Arkansas lover, she began her blog in 2008 as a way of bringing all of these together in a record for family and friends. She serves as an administrator for Arkansas Women Bloggers after recently retiring from a career in education. She and her husband, Circuit Judge Gary M. Arnold split their time between their homes in Central and Northwest Arkansas. When not traveling, cooking or blogging, she spends time growing heirloom tomatoes in her hobby garden, down from 33 varieties in 2007 to only five last year – but she’s reconsidering that. You may find her there with dirt under her fingernails and pearls around her neck.