Spring has arrived. The sun shone, the air was warm and everyone I met on my walk to the beach remarked that maybe the last bitter cold temperatures were finished, all said with a sigh of relief. Fingers crossed. On the way to school, peaks of green asparagus are poking their heads through the chocolate soil on the Koo Wee Rup flats. So to celebrate my own sigh of relief, I’ve created a pasta dish with spring greens: asparagus and artichokes.
Recently learned a trick from Elizabeth Minchilli of @eminchilli on making pasta dishes taste authentically Italian, like chefs throughout Italy’s cafes and restaurants do. Put simply, follow the method in this pasta dish and you’ll taste a bit of Italy.
· Pasta provides healthy carbohydrates. A cup of white spaghetti contains 43 grams of carbohydrates, while a cup of whole-wheat spaghetti offers 37 grams of carbs. Carbs are a primary source of fuel. Whole-wheat pasta also provides a considerable amount of fibre which helps fight chronic diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes, and promotes digestive health.
· Both white and whole-wheat pastas are excellent sources of selenium, a mineral that activates antioxidant enzymes which protect your cells from molecular damage.
· White pasta is a source of folate (vitamin B9) and whole-wheat pasta is a source of carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. Folate helps in red blood cell development and rapid cell growth.
FETTUCCINI W ASPARAGUS, ARTICHOKES & WALNUTS
Makes 4 small plate servings
250 grams fettuccine
¾ cup pasta water
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
pinch cayenne pepper or chili flakes
3 tablespoons savoury yeast
2 bunches of asparagus
275 grams marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
¼ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add salt and fettuccine, and cook until the fettuccine is cooked al dente.
Meanwhile, add olive oil, garlic and cayenne pepper (chili flakes) to a large fry pan, turn on the heat and cook until the garlic starts to sizzle, turn off the heat (remove from the stove if the hotplate is electric). Bring water to boil in a small saucepan, chop the asparagus into 2 cm lengths discarding the woody ends. Cook for several minutes, drain water and plunge into chilled water to stop the cooking process so the asparagus will retain their bright green colour.
When the fettuccine is cooked al dente, scoop ¾ cup of pasta water, and drain. Add the fettuccine, pasta water and savoury yeast to the fry pan on a medium heat, and stir vigorously while the water is reducing to emulsify into a sauce. Take off the heat when the water is almost gone. Add asparagus, artichoke hearts and ¾ of the walnuts, and mix gently. Top with the remaining walnuts and serve on a platter.