As a grad student, I’m not exactly rolling in the dough (unless you count bread dough). So, I eat pasta…a lot. But there are only so many times I can eat tomato sauce, no matter how fancy I make it. In this week’s USA Weekend column, I share my technique for making pasta with vegetables in a light, flavorful, wine and broth-based sauce. This is my absolute go-to formula for fast and fresh weeknight dinners. You can use any vegetables, any wine (or none), any broth, any herbs, and you can even add sausage, bacon, or chicken … they sky’s the limit. Just be sure to taste along the way, try new things, and trust your instincts!
12 ounces linguine, or other long pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling
1 large onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, more to taste
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1-1/2 cups dry white wine
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 heaping tablespoon capers, roughly chopped
1 bunch asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces and tough ends discarded
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 lemon: 2 teaspoons zest, 2 tablespoons juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, more for sprinkling
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. When water is boiling, add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally until al dente.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven or large high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook until fragrant, about another minute. Add the pepper flakes and thyme and stir to coat. Add the wine, chicken broth, and capers; simmer to blend flavors, about 3-5 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and add asparagus and peas. Cover and cook until the asparagus is crisp-tender and bright green, about 3-4 minutes.
When the pasta is done, drain (reserving about some of the water) and add it to the sauce. Add the lemon juice and zest, butter, and grated Parmigiano, stirring constantly to melt the butter and coat the pasta. Add a little pasta water to loosen the sauce if necessary, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve, drizzling each portion with a little olive oil and sprinkling each with more Parmigiano.
Sharon Anderson blogs with her mother and sister at Three Many Cooks.
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