Pappardelle with Spring Vegetable Marinara and Fresh Basil

Pappardelle with Spring Vegetable Marinara
I know this looks like a lot of ingredients but I promise you this came together in under an hour, and that includes me stopping to take photos. You don’t have to do that. It was actually really fun because I remembered to turn music on in the kitchen. I’m not sure why it’s hard for me to remember that! Music makes everything better. It was a 70’s kind of night featuring Billy Joel, America, Elvis (Costello of course), Fleetwood Mac, Hall and Oats, Paul Simon, Van Morrison, Elton John, etc., and finishing with my girls and I singing “Take it to the Limit” (that’s by the Eagles for you young ones) loudly at the dinner table. That’s good stuff; my mom never allowed singing at the dinner table. I just want to clarify for vanity’s sake that I’m not quite that old, the 80’s were my formative decade, musically speaking, but having five older siblings I was well versed in the songs of the 70’s and I am ever so grateful. I feel it’s now my duty to school my girls on that genre (among many others) and they seem to enjoy it when they aren’t rolling their eyes at The Marshall Tucker band – I just can’t resist the guilty pleasure of “Heard it in a Love Song”. I play it super loud in the kitchen.

I used two of my favorite Trader Joe’s products for this recipe, their Pappardelle Pasta and Tomato Basil Marinara. I’m all for saving time with cheater pasta sauce as long as it has decent ingredients. I just use it as a base and doctor it up a bit, in this case with lots of fresh flavor from vegetables and herbs. Serve it with your favorite bread and enjoy!

Pappardelle with Spring Vegetable Marinara and Fresh Basil 
(serves 4 – 6)

8oz package pappardelle pasta
2 TB olive oil
1 1/2 cups sweet yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 cups crimini/baby portabella mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano flakes
pinch of kosher salt
few shakes of red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
28oz jar prepared marinara sauce
1 cup peas, thawed if frozen
1 cup asparagus, chopped
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, cut in a chiffonade (thin ribbons)
2 TB fresh chives, chopped (optional)
1 cup fresh mozzarella, diced (optional)
grated parmesan cheese

If you have one handy, I suggest you employ a small sous chef (like the girl, not the dog) to prep veggies while you start on the stove. She was very helpful! Softer vegetables like the mushrooms, asparagus and green onion are good choices for beginning knife skills.
Fill a large stockpot with about 4 quarts of water and put on high heat while you’re making the sauce. If it boils before it’s time to cook the pasta, just turn it down and keep it hot.
Preheat dutch oven, deep skillet or large stainless steel saucepan on medium.
Dice about 1/3 to 1/2 of a large onion to yield about 1 1/2 cups.
Add olive oil to pan then add the chopped onion and cook over medium heat until they are soft and translucent.
Pappardelle with Spring Vegetable Marinara
Meanwhile, quickly thaw frozen peas by running them under hot water and chop the veggies that still need chopping.
Add mushrooms to cooked onion and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring often.
Add oregano, salt, red pepper and grated garlic. Cook for a couple more minutes then add jarred sauce. Stir and bring to a simmer, allow to cook while you boil the pasta.
Pappardelle with Spring Vegetable Marinara
 Slice your basil and chives and make sure all your other veggies are ready before you boil the pasta.
Add pasta to boiling, salted (couple pinches kosher salt) water and cook according to package instructions for al dente. If you are using fresh mozzarella, dice it now and grate some parmesan so it’s ready to toss in the pasta.
When the pasta has about a minute left to cook, add asparagus, peas and green onion to the marinara sauce. They should not need to cook very long, especially if you have thin, tender asparagus.
Drain pasta then transfer the sauce and the pasta to a large bowl to toss.
Toss in about 3/4 of the basil and chives, leaving some for garnish, and the fresh mozzarella.
Top with grated parmesan and remaining basil and chives.

Some of my favorite lyrics ever from one of my favorite albums ever…
“Desperado, oh you ain’t gettin’ no younger
Your pain and your hunger, they’re driving you home
And freedom, oh freedom, well that’s just some people talkin’
Your prison is walking through this world all alone.”
Glenn Frey and Don Henley


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