Spring Parmesan Pasta is a colorful and vibrant recipe that perfectly showcases the season’s freshest veggies. Peas and Swiss chard are the heros of this version, but you could easily substitute the fresh veg coming out of your own garden.
If you know me, then you know that I am not a religious person. It’s not a thing I wave around like a flag, but it’s not a big secret either. Just because I’m not in a pew every Sunday does not mean that I am not awed by the everyday miracles that happen all around us; the birth of babies, a mother’s love, the smile on a dog, or honey from a bee. One miracle I love to watch every year is our garden. Early each spring, I search through my box of seeds and begin to dream of our garden. We lovingly plant a handful of seeds in their own little pots and then worry and fret over them until it’s time for them to go into the ground. Then the most amazing thing happens, that handful of seeds grows and flourishes and gives us food to fill our bellies. And not just for one day, but for the whole season (or, if we do it right, the whole year)! And then towards the end of summer, that same handful of seeds that we started in the spring, gives even more seeds to start again the next year. It’s my own personal religious experience, tending our own little garden of miracles.
Thanks to the mild weather we have been enjoying the last few weeks, the garden so far has blessed us with a plethora of spring veggies (it’s not often that we actually get a spring in the South). Peas and greens and broccoli are common at the table these days. The peas and the greens are my favorite, I think. Tender and sweet, they are so refreshing in whatever you put them in.
This Spring Parmesan Pasta dish is the perfect way to showcase fresh vegetables (and if you don’t have a garden, make sure to visit the Farmer’s Market to pick up the freshest veggies). It could easily morph from a spring pasta to a summer pasta, just by swapping to the veggies that are in season. Make sure not to dump all the pasta cooking water down the drain, the starchiness of the water makes the sauce for the pasta creamy and unctuous.
I like to serve this pasta with grilled salmon (I love this one from Simply Fresh Dinners) or roasted chicken for a total meal, but it is just as good by itself for a lighter lunch or dinner.
Spring Parmesan Pasta
This quick and easy pasta comes together in the time it takes the pasta to cook. Be sure not to throw out the cooking water. The starchy water turns the cheese and butter into a creamy sauce.
- 1 pound corkscrew shaped pasta
- 4 slices bacon , chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion , minced
- 1 pound fresh swiss chard or spinach
- 2 cups fresh peas , or 1-10 oz. bag frozen peas
- ½ cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta per the package directions. Drain the pasta but reserve 1 cup of the cooking water for the sauce.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat a very large skillet or heavy wide pot over medium to medium high heat and add the bacon to the pan. Cook the bacon until it is crisp and remove it to some paper towels to drain.
- Add the butter to the bacon grease in the pan and then add in the onion. While the onion is cooking, remove the stems from the Swiss chard, and then chop the leaves and the stems separately. Add the stems to the pan with the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the onion and the Swiss chard stems begin to soften. Add in the green leaves and the peas and continue to cook, over medium heat until the greens have wilted and the peas are tender, another 3-5 minutes.
- Add the bacon, Parmesan and pasta to the pan and stir to combine everything loosely together. Add in about ½ of the pasta water to the pan and continue to stir until a creamy sauce forms. If the pasta still seems a little dry, add the remaining pasta water. Sprinkle with more cheese and serve immediately.
Tip: Swiss Chard is my favorite of the leafy greens and comes with a crisp stem that is similar in texture to celery. Unlike other greens, this stem is delicious to eat!