If you crave a creamy pasta recipe but don’t want to make a time-consuming sauce, try this absurdly easy, veggie-rich fusilli. You’ll cook the asparagus and peas with the pasta, then melt mascarpone in the same pot to coat the pasta with creamy richness. Crunchy buttered crumbs with toasted almonds bits make it irresistible.
If you’ve ever made pasta primavera, you know it can involve making a bechamel, and/or blanching all the vegetables separately, making it too time-consuming for a weeknight. In this luscious fusilli recipe, asparagus, baby spinach, and peas capture the “primavera” of spring, without all the steps. A tub of mascarpone coats everything with a light, creamy sauce requiring almost no effort.
Crunchy, Buttery Breadcrumb Topping
If the thought of adding bread to pasta sounds strange to you, hear me out. Using stale bread to make crumbs is old-school frugal, and delivers tons of crunch. By pan-toasting fresh crumbs in butter with chopped almonds and garlic, you’ll create a crispy, savory topping that harkens to the crumbs baked on top of macaroni and cheese. If you don’t have bread to use up, you can always use panko, too.
Curly Pasta Cradles Tender Veggies
Fusilli or rotini are the curly spirals designed to wind around bits of veggies and trap sauce. You can sub cavatappi or gemelli if you have some in the cupboard already.
Frozen peas can go straight to the colander, awaiting a hot bath when you drain the pasta, and asparagus just joins the pasta in the pot for the last 2 minutes. Spinach wilts in melted butter in the hot pasta pot, giving you a trio of green veggies with your pasta.
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Make the crumb topping:
If using fresh bread, cut the crusts off and cube the bread, then place in a food processor bowl and pulse to make crumbs. You’ll need 1 cup.
In the same processor, pulse the almonds into chunks under 1/4 inch (alternately, chop them by hand).
In a large skillet, warm the butter over medium heat. When it’s melted, add the crumbs, almonds, garlic, and salt. Stir well to mix as the ingredients get hot. Cook, stirring frequently, for until golden and fragrant, about 4-6 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and reserve.
Cook the pasta, asparagus, and peas:
Put on a large pot of salted water for boiling the pasta. Meanwhile, prep the asparagus and reserve.
When the water boils, add the pasta and cook according to the package directions, adding the asparagus to the pot for the last 2 minutes.
While the pasta cooks, place the peas in a large colander and place it in the sink. When the pasta is done, pour the boiling water and pasta over the peas in the colander, draining the hot pasta on top of them.
Make the sauce:
While the pasta drains, melt the butter in the same pot over medium heat. Add the lemon zest and spinach and saute just until the spinach wilts, about 2 minutes.
Add the mascarpone to the spinach and stir just until creamy-don’t let it melt and separate.
Add the drained pasta and veggies to the pot, and turn and toss to coat the pasta evenly.
Sprinkle with the toasted breadcrumbs and serve.
Refrigerate leftover pasta for up to 4 days, tightly covered. Keep leftover breadcrumbs in their own container.
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