Asparagus, Sugar Snap Pea and Ricotta Pasta

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So England’s been doing what England does best for the last couple of days. Rain. Rainrainrainraaaain. My life has been effectively reduced to testing how quickly I can cycle to and fro the library, and obstinately keeping my curtains firmly closed while at home to try and block out the bleak outside world.

In a similar vein of avoidance, the food I’ve been eating has been uncharacteristically sunny – snacking on strawberries, trying to incorporate as much fresh fish as a student budget will allow, and using an absurd amount of green veg. This pasta dish from TopWithCinnamon screams all things ‘spring’ to me, it’s vibrant and fresh, with a little bit of tang… and so darn pretty.

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Quick note on the freshness of your veg – the asparagus I’m not too concerned about since they are lightly griddled, but the sugar snaps are sliced thingy and kept raw so buy a pack that you’d be happy to snack on untouched. Sugar snap peas happily fall into the category of veg I 100% prefer raw and munch on sporadically throughout the day so this wasn’t really an issue for me, though I am certainly guilty of buying an excess of fresh veg and forgetfully letting them go somewhat limp, then frantically making a massive stir fry to compensate by the end of the week… basically just buy fresh sugar snaps if you plan on making this dish. Which is you really should. It makes an incredible main meal or side dish, when I made this for my friends and me I served it alongside some zesty chicken skewers!

Speaking of a vegetable that is far superior in its natural form: carrots. Why do we cook carrots? I mean I get it in the base of a bolognese, but really? Even fancy’ed up honey-roast carrots having nothing on the crisp, deliciousness of a raw one. Also avocados – what’s with this trend of baking an avocado with an egg in its centre? Warm avocado? There are some things I simply can’t get behind. Avocados in smoothies? Sure. In in a brownie? What the heck, I’ll try it. But HOT?! Nope. Move along please.

Also you can use whatever pasta you’d like, Fusilli or Penne would work really well and are easily accessible. To be frank I’d never hear of Casarecce pasta before coming across this recipe, but it is very aesthetically pleasing as all your ingredients end up being of a roughly uniform shape and size, and I managed to find a packet in my nearest Tesco no problem.

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Casarecce with Asparagus, Sugar Snap Peas and Ricotta (serves 3-4)
from TopWithCinnamon 

2 cups pasta
200 g asparagus
200 g sugar snap peas
110 g ricotta cheese
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
a small handful of  basil
Zest and juice of a lemon
Salt and pepper for seasoning for seasoning

1. Put a pot of water on the hob and bring to the boil, season liberally with salt and add your pasta – cook until al dente. Then drain your pasta and toss it in the olive oil, sliced basil, lemon zest and juice (depending on the size of your lemon you may only need half – you don’t want the flavour to overpower the subtle ricotta). Season to taste.

2. Thinly slice your sugar snaps and asparagus – depending on the size of your asparagus you may be able to simply halve them. Now toast your asparagus on a griddle pan on medium heat, turning them with kitchen tongs so all edges get slightly charred. Mix both greens in with the pasta.

3. Finally using a large wooden spoon dot large blobs of ricotta over your dish, and very lightly mix it through (you don’t want the ricotta to break up, go creamy, and simply coat your pasta – big chucks are favoured here).

4. Before serving I added a little bit more ricotta to the top, a slight sprinkle of zest,  some torn basil leaves and a final drizzle of olive oil*

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*In dishes like this it is really worth getting the best quality extra virgin olive oil you can afford, the difference is remarkable!

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