As the cold of winter warms, the very first vegetables make their appearance, and there is nothing better than the taste of the very first green after months of squash and potatoes and cold storage apples. Here, artichoke and asparagus are brought together with a squeeze of lemon and a touch of feta cheese, a pasta that is sure to awaken your taste buds after their winter hibernation.
As far as artichokes are concerned, there is so much plant available that goes to waste as we pull out the sought-after, tender hearts and discard the crunchy petals. This recipe makes use of both, creating a delicious crunch on the side with a bit of aioli. It's like carrots with ranch dressing of April.
Grilled Lemon, Asparagus and Artichoke Spring Pasta
10 ounces dry pasta of your choice, cooked al dente
3 organic artichokes
1 bunch organic asparagus
1 ½ organic lemons
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup organic cream
¾ cup organic feta cheese crumbles
Salt and pepper
Halve artichokes. Fill a medium-sized bowl with water and squeeze ½ lemon into the water. Soak artichokes in the lemon water. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cut the very tips off the artichokes. Transfer the artichokes to the boiling water and boil for 12-15 minutes until tender. Remove from water and drain.
Heat grill to medium heat. Melt butter and mix with juice from ½ a lemon, a pinch of salt and cracked pepper. Place artichokes and asparagus on the hot grill. Brush with melted butter mixture and turn the vegetables frequently. Cook for 8-10 minutes until slight char starts to form. Remove from grill. Cut asparagus into one-inch pieces. Pull large green petals off the artichoke and set into a small serving bowl. Quarter the hearts and remove the bitter purple insides.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic. Sauté for 30-45 seconds and immediately add asparagus pieces and artichoke hearts and juice from remaining ½ lemon. Stir to coat with oil and garlic. Toss in pasta. Add heavy cream and feta. Stir until feta starts to melt and cream is warm. Remove from heat. Serve immediately. Serve asparagus petals with easy garlic aioli (recipe below) on side.
Makes 4 servings.
Easy Garlic Aioli
¼ cup olive oil mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ teaspoon dijon mustard
½ teaspoon lemon juice
Use a mortar and pestle to smash garlic into a fine paste. Transfer to a bowl. Mix in mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice and pepper with the garlic. Serve.
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