Top | Vegetarian Main Dishes

Spring Herb Pasta

(recipe, Caroline Cummins)

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Loosely based on an Amanda Hesser recipe, this quick, easy pasta supper is nothing more than noodles dressed with fresh herbs, citrus, cheese, and a bit of cream. Use whatever fresh herbs you have on hand.


  1. ¾ to 1 lb. dried fettucine or linguine
  2. Olive oil
  3. 1 garlic clove, minced
  4. 4 large handfuls arugula leaves
  5. A few sprigs each of fresh leafy spring herbs (parsley, mint, chives, chervil, etc.), chopped
  6. Zest of 1 large lemon
  7. Juice of the same lemon
  8. ½ cup crème fraîche
  9. At least 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  10. Salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Fill a stockpot ⅔ full with water, add some salt, and bring it to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally.
  2. Put a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a skillet, along with the garlic and the arugula. (If the arugula leaves are large, chop them in half.) Briefly sauté, until the arugula is just wilted. Add the herbs, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Set aside.
  3. When the pasta is al dente, scoop out at least ½ cup hot pasta-cooking water and set it aside. Drain the pasta and return it to the cooking pot. Add the wilted greens, then the crème fraîche and ½ cup of the pasta water, tossing until the cream and water have mixed together to make a glossy coating for the pasta. Add the Parmesan and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Divide the hot pasta between four serving bowls and serve with extra cheese, salt, and pepper.


Variation: Asparagus and Morel Pasta. Wash 1 pound asparagus stalks. Snap off and discard the woody ends, then chop the asparagus into 1-inch lengths. Slick a skillet with olive oil, then pan-fry the asparagus in two batches. (If the asparagus is thick, you may wish to blanch the asparagus before pan-frying it.) Wash 1/3 pound fresh morels in several changes of water and drain. Sweat the morels in the skillet over medium heat for several minutes; drain off the resulting liquid into a saucepan. Chop the morels and add them to the saucepan. Add 1 Tbsp. butter and the garlic to the saucepan, as well as the asparagus; cook for a few minutes over medium heat, until the garlic is fragrant and the butter has melted. Add the citrus and dairy and stir till melted, then toss with the cooked pasta. Serve with the salt, pepper, and freshly grated Parmesan.