Spring Radiatore with Sweet Peas

Peas are actually from the legume family, packing tons of nutritional protein and fiber while remaining light and naturally sweet.  They are the ideal Spring star for the foodie with little time and the lots of hunger.  Although this is a pasta dish, the vegetables are really the show stoppers here with the combination of earthy mushrooms, sweet peas, fresh lemon, tangy tomatoes and creamy goat cheese.

The recipe came about as a combination of a few I’ve stumbled upon lately.  One was in Bon Appetite where chef Victor Casanova used peas as a pasta sauce, and the other is by Giada DeLaurentis who used peas as a replacement for hummus.  My version utilizes the peas as sauce, but incorporates more of the flavors from Giada’s dip and  I used radiatore because of its ability for the pasta to carry the thick pea puree.

Serves 6
Pea Puree:
7 sun-dried tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
juice from 1/2 of a lemon, plus 1 teaspoon zest
2 cups defrosted peas (from your grocery’s frozen section)
2 oz goat cheese
1 tblspoon extra virgin olive oil
reserved pasta water (about 1/4 cup)
salt/pepper to taste

1 15oz can of garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
8 oz crimini mushrooms (washed and sliced)
6-8 oz asparagus (washed and trimmed of ends, then cut into 1″ pieces)
1 cup fresh spinach
2 cups Radiatore pasta
Olive oil
Parmesan (freshly grated)

Reconstitute the sun-dried tomatoes by placing them in a small dish; pour enough boiling water to submerge tomatoes well and cover with a plate or lid to seal and steam tomatoes.  This will take about 7 minutes. 

In your food processor, mince garlic, then add reconstituted tomatoes, lemon juice, zest, goat cheese and peas.  While the processor is on, add olive oil. 

Boil pasta in salted water,  and reserve about 1/4 cup of the starchy cooking liquid.  Add 2 tablespoons to the processor and puree until sauce has a smooth consistency.  Add more liquid if needed.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat, add mushrooms and saute for 6-8 minutes, or until they begin to soften and loose moisture.  Add asparagus, salt and pepper and saute for an additional 4 minutes until asparagus is bright green and still has a little crunch.  Finally, add pasta, garbanzo beans, spinach, and sauce to mushroom pan and toss lightly to heat sauce (salt/pepper to taste).  Serve on a large platter with a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese.