Each year when spring arrives (after what always feels like endless winter), I find myself craving lots of greens. And not just any greens, but those bright green colors and flavors of spring like asparagus, peas, and leeks. Here, I’ve dreamt up a pasta filled with those simple, fresh ingredients, paired with the salty-savoriness of bacon lardons. To me, this is the perfect dish to usher in the spring season.
Never cooked (or, heard of) lardons? No problem—it’s quite simple. Simply slice slab bacon into 1/4-inch pieces, cook according to the following recipe, and enjoy all crispy, meaty bites you could ever want.
1 pound fresh spaghetti
4 ounces extra thick cut bacon
12 ounces asparagus
1 cup frozen or fresh peas
2 cloves garlic
1/2 oz parsley
2 ounces grated Parmesan
1/4 cup panko
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
1. Cut bacon into lardons (1/4-inch thick). Trim and discard woody bottoms of asparagus and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Trim and discard dark green tops of leeks. Halve leek lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch half-moons. Place in a bowl of cold water, separating pieces, to let dirt sink to bottom. Mince garlic. Pick parsley leaves and finely chop, discarding stems.
2. In a small bowl combine parsley, parmesan and panko.
3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Season boiling water generously with salt. Stir in spaghetti and cook until al dente, 2–3 minutes. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain and set aside.
4. Place bacon in a cold pan over medium heat. Cook until bacon is crispy and tender, about 8 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined plate with a slotted spoon, reserving fat in pan.
5. Remove leeks from water and add to pan with bacon fat over medium heat. Cook until leeks are soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more.
6. Add asparagus and peas to pan and stir to combine. Add white wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add heavy cream and stir to combine.
7. Add pasta to pan with vegetables and stir to coat. Add reserved pasta water 1–2 tablespoons at a time and stir vigorously until sauce clings to noodles. This should take 1–2 minutes. Return bacon to pan and allow to warm through.
8. Garnish pasta with parmesan mixture. Serve hot.
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