For anybody who isn't a big fan of rich tomato sauces, this has to be the perfect pasta recipe if you still want bags of flavor on your plate. This dish is so full of fresh ingredients that even though it's in a creamy sauce it doesn't feel heavy. I must admit that every time I make this for a vegetarian they utterly love me — so it must be good.
14 ounces asparagus
4 tablespoons salted butter
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
1 cup dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in warm water
for 15 minutes and drained
2 leeks, washed and cut into 1/4-inch slices
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
3 tablespoons freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 pinches of smoked paprika
7 cups (18 ounces) rigatoni
2/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
salt to taste
1. Use a potato peeler to scrape the asparagus stalks, discarding the woody ends. Chop the stalks into 3/4-inch-long pieces. Drop into a medium saucepan of boiling salted water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and immediately refresh under cold running water to prevent them from discoloring. Set aside.
2. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the peas, mushrooms, leeks, and asparagus and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
3. Pour in the cream and cook for an additional 1 minute, stirring continuously.
4. Mix in the parsley and paprika, season with salt, and then set aside.
5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and return to the same pan.
6. Pour in the asparagus sauce and stir everything together for 30 seconds to allow the flavors to combine.
7. Divide among four serving plates, sprinkle with the Pecorino cheese, and serve immediately.
From Pasta Italiana: 100 Recipes from Fettuccine to Conchiglie by Gino D'Acampo. Copyright 2010 by Gino D'Acampo. Excerpted by permission of Kyle Books.