Pasta Verde is everything you think spring should be . . . beautifully bright green with loads of fresh veggies. The greens in the dish are asparagus, spinach, leeks, and mint. The intense flavors seem to pop in your mouth.
How to make pasta verde
We posted Pasta Verde several years ago and we love it so much we want to share it again in case you missed it the first time.
First, roast the asparagus, it intensifies the taste and improves the texture of the asparagus. It remains firm, not overcooked or mushy.
Second, use Ricotta Salata because it has a strong flavor and a bit more salt. This cheese seems to bring out the taste of the vegetables and the mint. You don’t need much cheese, saving on calories, but enough for the flavor.
A light dressing for pasta verde
Third, the use of fresh mint in the sauce gives a slightly sweet bite. The lightness of flavors continues with the sauce. The sauce whips into a very light lemony vinaigrette that does not weigh down the pasta and veggies.
Although this dish may be big on spring flavors, it is excellent any time of year. We found this recipe was an excellent side along with our Parmesan Broiled Flounder.
Tutti a tavola è pronto!
Un caro saluto e alla prossima.
- 16 oz. dry penne pasta
- 16 oz. asparagus, washed and trimmed
- 4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- Black pepper
- 2 cups sliced leeks
- 2 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic
- 10 oz. fresh baby spinach
- 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 oz. crumbled ricotta Salata ( about 1/2 cup)
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- For the pasta cook penne in boiling water per package direction; drain.
- Toss asparagus with 2 tsp. oil and 1 tsp. salt, then season with pepper and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil sprayed with vegetable spray. Roast asparagus until fork-tender, about 10 minutes.
- Sweat leeks and garlic in 2 tsp. oil in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat until leeks begin to soften. Stir in spinach and cook to slightly wilt. Stir in penne. Set aside.
- For the vinaigrette, whisk together 6 Tbsp. oil, lemon juice, mint, and 1 tsp. salt. Add ricotta Salata and stir just to combine, then season with pepper. Toss Vinaigrette with pasta mixture to coat. The vinaigrette can be prepared ahead of time so that you can immediately add it to the pasta mixture.
- Sand and dirt often settle in the layers of leeks. The best way I've found to clean them is to half the leeks lengthwise and rinse the leeks under cold running water until they are clean, then I slice them.