Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mint scores well again in spring pasta dish

It never fails to amaze me how delicious mint tastes with pasta.
   Mint is often associated with cocktails and desserts, but it can add a refreshing depth to a plate of pasta as well.
   My most recent outing with mint in pasta was with Fresh Tortellini with Asparagus, Peas, and Mint (click for the recipe) from Fine Cooking magazine.
   Once again, the mint played a lovely role in making this spring-season dish delicious, blending perfectly with the goat cheese, peas, pine nuts and asparagus.
   The asparagus was also a highlight of the dish. The recipe’s direction to boil it for two to three minutes is perfect: It yields tender, but not mushy, pieces of asparagus.
   The dish was an absolute snap to make, perfect for a weeknight.
   My husband and I diverged from the recipe slightly by cooking the fresh store-bought tortellini longer than indicated in the recipe.
   The recipe says to boil the pasta, asparagus and peas together for two to three minutes. However, the tortellini package said the pasta’s proper cooking time is six to eight minutes.
   We boiled the tortellini alone for three minutes, then added the asparagus and peas and boiled for another three minutes. This seemed to be a perfect time combination to yield nicely-cooked tortellini and asparagus.
   The recipe calls for shelled fresh peas or thawed frozen peas. I used canned peas.
   After the boiled tortellini, asparagus and peas are drained, they are tossed in a large bowl with a mixture of olive oil, garlic, cayenne pepper and salt.
   Toasted pine nuts, chopped mint, and goat cheese are added, and those ingredients are stirred into the pasta until the cheese melts into a sauce.
   Season with salt and pepper if desired and serve.

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