This weekend I went a little crazy at the greenmarket and bought a ridiculous amount of vegetables. In my defense they were all really beautiful and fresh looking. As a result of my vegetable overload, I made this dish, which I have been making a LOT lately. It's super-versatile and you can use whatever veggies you have. I think it is hard to go wrong with fresh spring vegetables with pasta and beans, but a few thoughts:
1. The dish will require more vegetables than you think. The one problem I have ever run into while making this is having an unsuccessful pasta/vegetable ratio. It should be about 1:1 with maybe a little more vegetables. Otherwise, it's kind of bland.
2. Some kind of acid is a good idea for better flavor. I like to use lemon juice or sherry vinegar. I throw it in at the end.
3. Grated parmesan is a good idea. Unless you are vegan. Or lactose intolerant. Otherwise, pile it on.
Onto the "recipe". I didn't include quantities, since it is different each time depending on what I have in the fridge.
pasta (any kind - i like chunky pasta with beans)
garlic (I had garlic greens which look like scallions, but have a milder garlic flavor)
onion, minced (I used spring onions, which are the ones with the greens attached. Again, a milder flavor)
vegetables: I used mushrooms (thickly sliced), asparagus (chopped into 1" pieces), spinach (roughly chopped), cherry tomatoes (quartered)
beans (I used chick peas, but white beans would also work)
fresh basil, chopped (you could use other herbs, of course)
lemon juice (I used 1/2 lemon)
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
other optionals: grated cheese, fresh ricotta or mozarella, toasted pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes, pesto
Put the water on to boil for the pasta. Add pasta to water when it reaches a boil and your vegetables are 10 minutes away from being finished. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic once oil is heated. Add the vegetables in order of longest cooking time. I first put in mushrooms, then asparagus, finally spinach and lastly, tomatoes. If the harder veggies are taking too long, you can throw in some water/pasta water/stock/white wine, turn up the heat, cover, and steam for a minute or so to speed things up. I did this after adding the spinach. Add the beans to the skillet so they can heat too. When the pasta is done, drain it and add to the skillet. Turn off the heat. This is when you add additional olive oil, salt and pepper, if needed, herbs, and lemon juice/vinegar. Add parmesan before serving.