Tortellini with Asparagus, Peas, and Mint

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Between cold snaps and sunny afternoons, I’ve spent time with friends and family cooking, eating, sharing glasses of wine and spending much time preparing my backyard garden for the seasons ahead. My mother and second-mother, Debbie, visited Greensboro for a long weekend to help straighten up (that’s a major understatement) and refresh the garden with clean edges and colorful landscaping. My friends Margaret and Sarah were nice enough to play along by joining me on an adventure to pick up much needed mulch.

We spent the evenings enjoying seasonal seasonal ingredients for delicious dinners – seared salmon with anchovy and caper butter, asparagus salads, shiitake mushrooms and roasted chicken. A great compliment to the flowers for planting.

So here’s a simple meal or side dish that has similar compliments. Fresh asparagus, goat cheese and mushrooms that pair well and stand up to easy store bought tortellini. Save the leftovers for office lunches and picnics.

Fresh Tortellini with Asparagus, Peas, and Mint, Fine Cooking Magazine

  • Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 lb. fresh cheese tortellini
  • 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed of tough, woody stems, and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces (leave the tips whole)
  • 1 cup shelled fresh peas (or thawed frozen peas)
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 2 oz. fresh goat cheese, softened
  • Freshly ground black pepper

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.

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