Alright, I am aware that many readers have come to believe we simply do not eat any meal that does not feature asparagus. And to look at our most recent posts, you wouldn’t be that far off. We just love the vegetable at this time of the year. And we do live in a place where some of the country’s best asparagus grows. So we take advantage of our geography and eat a lot of the stuff this time of year.
But we can hardly keep up with the 10 recipes in the current issue of Fine Cooking magazine. And to make that challenge even harder, the magazine says they all come to the table in 10 minutes. The recipe for Fresh Tortellini came at a particularly good time since we were entertaining our friend Stephen on a weeknight and Stephen is a strict vegetarian.Tortellini was one of my son Alex’s favorite foods when he was little. Come to think of it, it was one of my favorite things to serve him. They’re terribly easy to cook and, unlike a lot of pastas, very forgiving in their cooking times. They’re also easy to find fresh in the supermarket and lend themselves to a lot of creative sauce-making—cream sauce, tomato sauce, pink vodka sauce for example. In this recipe, there’s no real sauce, per se, but the addition of 5 ounces of Boursin Cheese perks up the dish and melds it all together. (The original recipe in Fine Cooking called for 2 ounces of goat cheese. But goat cheese is one of the things that’s off the menu at our house. Andrew just doesn’t like it.) And when Fine Cooking said it cooked in 10 minutes, they weren’t kidding. It’s astonishingly fast. Even the prep is a piece of cake: Cutting up the asparagus is about as labor-intensive as this dish gets. The pine nuts need to be toasted and the mint rough chopped but that’s it. It’s a perfect Meatless Monday meal although when I saw the Tortellini next to my vegetarian version, I couldn’t help thinking that those Tortellini, filled with Cheese and Prosciutto, would have been very good indeed. Here’s the recipe:
Recipe for Fresh Tortellini with Asparagus, Peas and Mint adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine.
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1.4 lb. fresh cheese tortellini
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed of tough, woody stems, and cut crosswise into 1 inch pieces (leave the tips whole)
2 cups shelled fresh peas (or thawed frozen peas)
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
1 5.2 oz. package of Boursin Cheese*, softened
Freshly ground black pepper
* I used the Garlic Shallot Flavor
In a 6-quart covered pot, bring 3 quarts well-salted water to a boil over high heat.
In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, cayenne, and 1/2 tsp. salt.
Cook the tortellini, asparagus, and peas in the boiling water until the tortellini is al dente, 2 to 3 minutes.
Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and vegetables and toss with the garlic-oil mixture. Add the pine nuts, mint, and goat cheese and stir until the cheese melts into a sauce, adding cooking water as needed to moisten the pasta. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve.