There are a few fresh ingredients I’m finding addictive this spring. Last year this time, I was living in French Guiana, an overseas department of France north of Brazil. The markets were great ––fresh-squeezed passion fruit juice, pastured chicken, purple dragon fruit–– but I missed peas, strawberry, and rhubarb. Now that I’m back and it’s springtime again, I’m devouring the things I missed. But now, of course, I miss passion fruit.
This pasta makes great use of any kinds of fresh peas you have around. English peas, snap peas, pea shoots; they all stand out with the lemon and smoked salmon flavors. Frozen would taste okay too, but this pasta is really an excuse to eat fresh spring peas. As if you needed an excuse.
Spring Creamy Lemon Pasta with Smoked Salmon, Pea Shoots, and Peas
- 1/2 pound or more of peas: chopped snap peas, shelled English peas, or a combination
- 1/3 bunch of tender pea shoots, finely chopped
- 2 small sweet spring onions, chopped small
- 1/2 small head young garlic or 3 cloves regular garlic, chopped small
- 8 mushrooms, sliced (wild mushrooms, especially morels, would be great. I used regular button mushrooms.)
- Juice of 1–2 lemons (regular or Meyer)
- A few ounces of smoked salmon (you can also use leftover pieces of cooked salmon)
- 1/2 cup coconut milk or cream
- 6–8 oz of pasta (I used gluten-free fusilli)
- Butter and olive oil
- Optional: fresh spring herbs such as chervil or basil
1. Set pasta water to boil. Prepare pasta as you usually would. When it is cooked, drizzle with olive oil and set aside.
2. While pasta is boiling, chop all your vegetables as described above. Get the bowl you’ll use to serve the pasta ready.
3. In a sturdy pan with plenty of surface area, heat a bit of butter and olive oil. When it’s hot, cook the white parts of your onions and garlic on medium-high, saving the green onion shoots if you have them until the onions have turned clear and are starting to brown. Then, stir in any green parts. You can add some salt as the onions are cooking.
4. Add more butter and stir in sliced mushrooms. Cook on medium-high stirring occasionally, until mushrooms have released their juices and the edges are starting to brown.
5. Scrape out the contents of the pan into the bowl waiting to serve the pasta. (If the pasta is done and already in the bowl, that’s fine; you can add the mushrooms to the pasta.)
6. Put the pan back on the hot burner and add the peas, a little olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Stir a few seconds.
7. Add the pea shoots to the peas and stir until they are just barely cooked.
8. Scrape the peas and pea shoots into the pasta bowl (or, again, onto the pasta if the pasta is done).
9. If the pasta isn’t already done, wait for it to finish. Pour it into the pasta bowl and toss it with some olive oil and the awaiting mushrooms, onions, peas, and pea shoots.
10. Put your sauté pan back on the burner, but turn the burner off and just use the residual heat for this step. Add the coconut milk or cream to the pan and stir to pick up any remaining flavors or bits of sautéed vegetables. If you are using any fresh herbs, you can add them now too. Scrape this mixture onto the pasta and mix it in.
11. Add the lemon juice to the pasta. Crumble the smoked salmon over the pasta. Stir and serve immediately.