Spring Vegetable Pasta With Lemon and Herbs

by Amy on 10 June 2014

Spring Vegetable PastaSpring Vegetable Pasta (ingredients)I’m so excited to share this beautiful pasta dish with y’all today 1) because it’s delicious and 2) because it uses really neat cooking techniques. First, this recipe interestingly uses *every part* of the vegetables. The usually-discarded parts, like the stalky asparagus ends and tough leek ends, are utilized to make a super-flavorful enriched vegetable broth that cooks the pasta, risotto-style. Cool, huh? Then, all the edible veggies are cooked individually in stages, to ensure that each is perfectly crisp-tender – no mushy veggies here!

This dish is truly a perfect combination of flavors and textures. The pasta tastes delightfully nutty from being toasted and since it’s cooked risotto-style, the sauce becomes creamy and lush. The vegetables are perfectly cooked and the herb/lemon mixture added at the end lends tons of bright flavor. The result is truly one of the most delicious, balanced pasta dishes I’ve ever had. I served this with extra parmesan cheese, buttery bread and a crisp salad, and my husband + I both agreed that it was one of the tastiest dishes we’ve had in a long time. Add this to your must-try list, friends!

Spring Vegetable Pasta

Spring Vegetable Pasta With Lemon + Herbs

serves 6-8, adapted from America’s Test Kitchen


3 medium leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise, washed, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (about 5 cups); 3 cups roughly chopped dark green parts reserved
1 pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off, chopped coarsely, and reserved; spears cut on bias into 1/2-inch-thick pieces
2 cups frozen baby peas, thawed
4 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 4 teaspoons)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon finely grated zest plus 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound campanelle pasta
1 cup dry white wine
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus extra for serving
freshly ground black pepper


1. Place dark green leek trimmings, asparagus trimmings, 1 cup peas, 2 teaspoons garlic, vegetable broth, and 1 cup water in large saucepan. Bring to simmer over high heat, then lower heat to medium-low and gently simmer 10 minutes. While broth simmers, combine basil, oregano, and lemon zest in small bowl; set aside.

2. Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer into 8-cup measuring cup, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible (you should have 5 cups broth total; add water as needed to measure 5 cups). Discard solids and return broth to saucepan. Cover and keep warm over low heat.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add sliced leeks and a generous pinch of salt; cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until leeks begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add asparagus pieces and cook until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add remaining 2 teaspoons garlic and pepper flakes; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add remaining 1 cup peas and continue to cook 1 minute. Transfer vegetables to plate and set aside. Wipe out pot.

4. Heat remaining 4 tablespoons oil in now-empty Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add pasta and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 2 minutes.

5. When wine is fully absorbed, add hot broth. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil. Cook, stirring frequently, until most of liquid is absorbed and pasta is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.

6. Remove pot from heat, stir in lemon juice, Parmesan, half of herb mixture, and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, passing additional Parmesan cheese and remaining herb mixture separately.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kathryn June 10, 2014 at 9:45 am

This pasta sounds just wonderful – I love the flavours and the fact that you make a stock from the veggies as well for an extra punch of deliciousness. Can’t wait to make this!

2 Leah | So, How's It Taste? June 10, 2014 at 10:03 am

I go nuts over pasta with veggies this time of year. I also don’t cook with leeks enough, so looks like I need this in my life. Great photos!

3 amy June 10, 2014 at 10:15 am

I don’t cook enough with leeks, either, but I’ve been buying them recently when they’re on sale and they are SO good. Much easier to clean/cook than I realized before!

4 danielle June 10, 2014 at 10:32 am

Im intrigued – I love how this cooks like a risotto. I’ve never seen this done with pasta before.

5 amy June 10, 2014 at 10:41 am

Hi Danielle, this is actually probably the 4th or 5th risotto-style pasta dish I’ve made – it turns out FANTASTIC – super creamy because of the starch released from the pasta. If your family likes carrots, this risotto-style pasta with carrots is another awesome one! I haven’t photographed/blogged about it, but it’s really good! http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Pasta-with-Carrots-Risotto-Style

6 Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie June 10, 2014 at 10:43 am

Oh wow you definitely talked me into this one. Love how every part of the vegetables gets used to enhance all the flavors!

7 Alexandra June 10, 2014 at 12:46 pm

Chiming in along with everyone else, it seems, to say how awesome it is that the recipe uses every piece of the vegetable and starts with a quick stock! Brilliant!

8 Anna (Hidden Ponies) June 10, 2014 at 6:06 pm

That creamy sauce sounds like perfection! Beautiful spring pasta, Amy!

9 Kelly June 10, 2014 at 10:04 pm

I love how bright and fresh this pasta looks! Using up every part of the veggies sounds awesome and I can just imagine how much flavor it packs into this dish. Such a great idea Amy and I can’t wait to try it – pinning :)

10 Monet June 10, 2014 at 11:08 pm

Love this Amy! So many vegetables…so much spring/summer goodness! Thank you for sharing. I can’t wait to try it.

11 Beth June 11, 2014 at 7:21 am

You’ve convinced me. I think this looks wonderful!

12 ATasteOfMadness June 14, 2014 at 10:21 am

This looks amazing!! I need to make pasta more often!

13 Kumar's Kitchen June 16, 2014 at 4:12 am

we are so happy every time we see a pasta recipe posted in this blog….they simply taste the best….this summery treat is no exception,thanks :-)

14 Lesley Eats June 16, 2014 at 11:06 am

Man, that looks delicious. I’m a sucker for lemon in a dish, though. Love it.

15 maigan June 20, 2014 at 10:42 am

We were just talking about doing a veggie dish tonight – this one is going to be the winner! Provided I can find the ingredients easily :) The Big Kroger, I assume.

16 amy June 20, 2014 at 10:51 am

Yes, big Kroger is where I got all mine! Although Turnip Truck sometimes has leeks on a great sale, just FYI. The herbs we plucked right from the garden – let me know if you need any, I can easily drop some by later! =)

17 Caitlin June 21, 2014 at 2:52 am

Wow, this looks amazing. From your description, I thought it might be too time consuming, but it actually doesn’t look too bad after reading the recipe! I think I could handle it :) with so many veggies, there will be no guilt eating a bit of pasta!

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