I love the changing of seasons; probably because I am a Sagittarius and a bit nomadic in nature plus it’s always fun to have something to look forward to! Here in Italy spring is in the air which means the first hints of spring are also popping up in the markets with the appearance of spring peas and spring onions.
In anticipation of all the lovely spring vegetables that are about to make their debut in the markets, I have been brainstorming over the past couple of weeks various spring inspired recipes that I could make. Pasta is always a hit in our house and since I have gotten into a bit of a rut rotating various pesto and tomato based pasta dishes, I wanted to add a new, spring inspired, yet easy pasta dish into the rotation.
So, I trotted down to our local farmer’s market and saw all of the fresh spring peas and spring onions. I was so excited, that I think I might have bought all of them. I knew I wanted to make a pasta dish so, after a few trial runs and fails, I finally came up with a stupendously easy and delicious recipe that has the indulgent taste of french onion soup, but without any of the guilt. The base for this creamy sauce is so simple….spring onions, a bit of garlic, white wine, and a splash of milk (any milk you have on hand works, even a vegan milk works).
When sautéing the spring onions, the key to producing the french onion soup taste is addition of the white wine. It is important to simmer the mixture for about fifteen minutes to intensify the flavors.
This pasta dish is super simple and surprisingly healthy since, even though the sauce is creamy, there is no cream, just a bit of milk. Once you saute and simmer the mixture, a quick blend with an immersion or regular blender produces a creamy, silky texture. You can definitely make the sauce a day ahead if you want and just zap it in the microwave for about a minute or heat up in a small saucepan on the stove before tossing it with the cooked pasta.
You can toss this cream with either fresh or dried fettucine or even a short spiral pasta would work. Finish it with some cooked spring peas (you can certainly use frozen peas if you don’t have access to fresh ones), a little fresh thyme and a good dusting of parmesan cheese and you have a gorgeous and satisfying plate of pasta!
- 1 lb (500 grams) spring onions, sliced (use just the white and light greens parts)
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves (left whole, but smashed)
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (if using dried, using only ½ teaspoon)
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ to ¾ cup white wine
- 3 - 4 Tablespoons milk (you can use any % or even a vegan based milk)
- 400 grams fettucine (I like to use fresh, but you can certainly use dried)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Grated parmesan to taste
- In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat up the oil oil with the smashed garlic cloves. When the garlic starts to sizzle and turns lightly brown, remove from the oil and discard.
- Add the sliced spring onions and saute for approximately 5 minutes or until softened and translucent, but not browned. Add the fresh thyme leaves and nutmeg.
- Add ½ cup of the white wine and let it come to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the onions are very soft. If the mixture begins to look a little dry, you can add the remaining ¼ cup of wine.
- Once the onions are completely softened and the most of the wine has cooked of, add 3 Tablespoons of the milk and blend together with an immersion or regular blender. If the mixture is a little tight, add the remaining Tablespoon of milk. Pour the mixture back into the pan that you cooked it in.
- While the onion mixture is simmering, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the fresh peas and cook for 5 minutes. Once cooked, scoop them out with a slotted spoon or spider and add them to the onion mixture.
- Bring the water back to a rolling boil, salt the water generously and cook the pasta al dente; usually one minute shy according to the package instructions.
- Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the onion mixture and peas and toss to coat completely.
- If you want, you can finish the pasta with a good dusting of parmesan cheese.