Garganelli with onions, asparagus and peas

Garganelli with Spring Onions, Asparagus, and Peas
Serves 4

When springtime finally brings asparagus spears, bulb onions, and plump sweet peas, we combine them in dishes such as this. Just-picked favas, sugar snaps, carrots, and recently dug new potatoes or ramps would also combine beautifully and celebrate the season. Cut vegetables into bite-sized pieces and give them a quick blanch in boiling water before you add them to the sauce. We finish the dish with mint or other tender herbs for another layer of flavor.


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 heaping cup sliced spring onions or leeks (white and pale green parts)
  • 12 slender asparagus spears, tough bottoms discarded and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Sliced baby carrots, sugar snap peas, or other spring vegetables (see headnote)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen sweet peas
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound garganelli (see Note)
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint, plus a little extra for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon finely sliced chives
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino romano
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions or leeks and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until very soft.

  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to boil for the pasta. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, add the asparagus, and cook for 1 minute. Add the carrots, if using, and cook for 1 minute. Add the sweet peas and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the snap peas, if using, cook for about 30 seconds, then drain. Add the asparagus and other vegetables to the onions, then stir in the cream. Set the pan aside while you cook the pasta.

  3. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain and transfer to the pan with the onions. Place the pan over high heat and cook, tossing, for 1 to 2 minutes, until the vegetables are hot. Add the mint, chives, 1/2 cup of the cheese, the lemon zest, and the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and toss well to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

  4. Serve in warm bowls, garnished with more mint and the remaining grated cheese.
To Drink: Pinot Grigio or Pinot Bianco (Livio Felluga)

Note: Garganelli is a penne-like cut, but with trapezoid sides and little ridges that collect all the juices from the pan. Many other shapes, such as rigatoni, penne, or even farfalle, work just as well here.

About Frank Stitt
Frank Stitt is the chef and owner of Highlands Bar and Grill, Bottega Restaurant and Café and Chez Fonfon, all located in Birmingham, Alabama. He has won the James Beard Foundation's Award for the Best Chef of the Southeast and was also nominated for its 2008 Outstanding Chef, and, most recently, was nominated by the Beard Foundation for the 2009 Outstanding Restaurant Award. He also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern Foodways Alliance. Stitt has appeared in several television series and won coast-to-coast praise-from The New York Times to Gourmet. He is the author of Frank Stitt's Southern Table, which was chosen as Book of the Year by the Southern Independent Booksellers' Alliance and as a main selection of the Good Cook Book Club.

Tonight, May 13, 2009
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