Winter is about indulging in all of those favorite savory comfort foods that wrap your body in a cloak of warmth and caloric flavor; now, it’s time for spring, and while the temperature is slowly rising and hibernating under that weighted blanket your mother-in-law bought you as a last-minute Christmas present is no longer acceptable, craving pasta is a year-round affair. It’s time to swap out those seasonal offerings (goodbye sage and pumpkin, we’ll see you come autumn) and load your pan up with a fresh harvest of springtime ingredients like spinach, artichokes, and garden herbs. April showers may bring May flowers, but the months are also bringing bowls of hearty, flavorful pasta, like the four ideal-for-spring recipes you’ll find below:
1. Zingy Artichoke and Lemon Pasta
Adults will love the simple yet sophisticated taste of this dish; kids will love the funky bow tie shapes. Served as either a side or as a main course, this yummy dish manages to be both light and satisfying. Start by trimming a 1/2 pound of asparagus into 1-inch pieces; boil the asparagus pieces in salted water for 1-2 minutes, or just until tender. Remove from water and transfer to an ice bath; once cooled off, remove and pat dry. In that same pot of water, cook 4 cups of uncooked bow tie pasta until al dente, being sure to reserve a cup of pasta water before draining. While the pasta cooks, toss 1 can (drained) of artichoke hearts in olive oil over medium-high heat until slightly browned; stir in 2 cloves of minced garlic, and cook for an additional minute. Combine artichoke and garlic mixture with both the pasta and asparagus; add in 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, reserved pasta water, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Heat through, and serve garnished with a crumble of feta cheese and a sprig of parsley.
2. Classic Pasta Puttanesca
This delicious Pasta Puttanesca will help to use up some of the basil that’s probably growing abundantly in your herb garden right around this time. Begin by cooking 1 pound of linguine in salted, boiling water until al dente. While the pasta boils, toss 3 of those infamous (but delicious) anchovy filets with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 3 cloves of smashed garlic over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until garlic becomes golden. Once golden, pour in a (drained) can of whole plum tomatoes, crushing the tomatoes with your spoon as you go. Add salt and pepper to taste; cook for 10 minutes on medium-high heat, or until tomatoes have broken down into a sauce. Stir in 3 tablespoons capers, 1/2 cup pitted black olives, and red pepper flakes to taste; once combined, add in the drained pasta. Plate with a generous helping of fresh basil leaves.
3. Quick Spinach and Mushroom Linguine
By the time the week is halfway through, both your energy level and your wallet seem totally depleted. Whip up a dinner that’s quick, easy, and cheap by dressing up a store-bought jar of alfredo sauce with a splash of white wine, minced garlic, grated Parmesan cheese, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Cook down 1/2 pound of sliced button mushrooms into the sauce, followed by 3 cups of loosely-packed fresh baby spinach. Mix in a box of linguine pasta, cooked to al dente, then finish with a final grind of black pepper.
4. Refreshing Avocado Pasta Salad
This refreshing (yet filling) dish is the perfect vegan side to dazzle any cookouts or dinner parties you’ll be attending this season. Start by boiling 3 cups of your favorite macaroni-style pasta in salted water and cook until al dente. While you wait for the pasta to cook, combine 1 avocado, 1/2 cup of water, 1 clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon dried dill, 2 tablespoons horseradish, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper in a food processor and blend until smooth. Toss the cooled pasta with the blended avocado sauce, plus 1 chopped cucumber, 1/2 chopped red onion, 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes, and 1/2 cup rinsed chickpeas.