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Pappardelle with Spring Vegetables and Lemon Cream

This lovely spring pasta celebrates green: asparagus, English peas, and fava beans are tossed with wide noodles and a rich lemon-infused cream.  We steep the cream with lemon rind to intensify the flavor.  If Meyer lemons are available, by all means use them here.  You can substitute spring onions or leeks for the shallots.  If you’re short on time, skip the peas and fava beans and simply go with the asparagus. A sprinkling of chive blossoms adds a beautiful touch.

Serves 4 to 6

INGREDIENTS:

2 lemons

1 cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper

½ pound fava beans, shelled, about ¾ cup

½ pound asparagus, tough stem ends removed, cut in 2-inch pieces on the diagonal, about 1 cup

½ pound English peas, shelled, about ½ cup

1½ tablespoons olive oil

3 large shallots, sliced, about ½ cup

2 teaspoons minced garlic

¼ cup white wine

¾ pound fresh papparadelle

1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated, about 1/3 cup, plus more to serve at the table

Chive blossoms (optional)

 

Use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to remove three wide strips of rind from one of the lemons.  Combine in a small saucepan with the cream and a pinch each of salt and pepper.  Bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat, remove from the heat, and steep for 30 minutes.  Strain the cream.  

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt lightly.  

Use a zester to remove threads from the remaining lemon rind, keeping the threads as long as possible.  You should have about ¼ cup; place them in a small bowl.  Squeeze the juice of one half lemon; you should have about 1½ tablespoons.  Scoop enough hot water from the pot to cover the lemon threads and allow them to soak for 30 seconds.  Drain and set aside.  

Drop the fava beans into the pot and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.  Scoop them out and rinse under cold water, then slip them out of their skins.  Drop in the asparagus and the peas separately, cooking them until just tender and still bright green:  allow 2 to 3 minutes for the asparagus and 1½ to 2 minutes for the peas.  Rinse them under cold water and drain well.   Heat the oil in a large sauté pan and add the shallots, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper.  Cook over medium heat until the shallots begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes; add the garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add the wine and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and cook until the pan is nearly dry, about 3 minutes.  

Meanwhile, drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes.  Just before you drain the pasta, scoop out ½ cup of the pasta cooking liquid, and add it to the sauté pan.  Drain the pasta in a colander.  Add the cream to the sauté pan and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the pasta, the vegetables, the lemon threads, the remaining lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper.  Gently toss everything together to coat with the sauce and cook for a minute or two to heat the vegetables thorough.  Remove from the heat, toss in the Parmesan, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with the chive blossoms, if using, and serve with freshly grated Parmesan.  

Tip:  If you don’t have a zester, peel wide strips of rind with a vegetable peeler and cut them into skinny strips.

Make ahead tips:  Shell the English peas and fava beans and steep the cream.  You can even blanch the fava beans and slip them out of their skins a few hours in advance.