When I was a little girl, I often wandered into the kitchen, curious to learn what was going on behind all the chopping sounds and clanging of pans and lids. “Can I help?” I often asked, and typically, I would be given the task to mash the garlic in the mortar and pestle, or possibly peel the potatoes.
Sometimes, however, my mother would say, “The best way you can help me is by not helping me.”
I understood. It wasn’t meant to hurt my feelings. It simply meant time is short, and preparing dinner would go much faster if she was left to whirl around in the kitchen without a child underfoot.
These days, I have my own children who show curiosity in the kitchen, but I also understand that very real need to get dinner on the table quickly. This fettuccine with creamy spinach sauce, asparagus and peas is a meal I can actually cook with them without sacrificing time, and let’s face it, what child doesn’t like eating pasta? It’s a win-win all around.
When I can, I use fresh pasta, not just because it tastes better but because it cooks in about half the time! Pasta nights at our house also mean I can load them up with the season’s freshest vegetables and not have to worry about coaxing my kids to eat their veggies.
A little milk is all I need to make a simple sauce creamy… and this one, blended with fresh spinach and asparagus stalks, is a healthy version reminiscent of creamy Alfredo. My kids can place the veggies into a blender, along with some olive oil, cheese and garlic, and with the press of a button, we have the base of a very tasty sauce!
There’s something magical about a dish that you help make; I know my kids are always more willing to eat something if they had a hand in it, and I’m sure your children are the same way.
Let them take the lead with this simple, healthy pasta and give yourself a break. You deserve it!
Fettuccine with creamy spinach sauce, asparagus and peas
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- 12 ounces asparagus (1 small bundle), cut into 1-inch pieces, tips reserved
- 1 cup fresh peas
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 9 ounces fettuccine (fresh, ideally)
- 1 cup 2% milk
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 cups reserved pasta water
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. A pot with a steamer insert makes this easy, but if you don’t have one, a sieve works, too. Season the boiling water generously with salt, then drop in the spinach and sliced asparagus stalks (reserve the tips for later). Cook for about 1 minute, just to blanch the asparagus stalks. Retrieve the asparagus and spinach, drain and put into a blender or food processor.
- In the same pot of water, cook the asparagus tips and peas for about 1 minute, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Meanwhile, add the olive oil, garlic and Parmesan cheese to the blender with the asparagus stalks and spinach. Blend until smooth.
- Bring the pot of water back to a boil again, then cook the fettuccine until al dente. If you are using fresh pasta, this should take about 2-3 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then drain the pasta, rinse under cool water and return to the empty pot.
- Stir in the spinach mixture, butter and milk into the pasta, adding the pasta water about 1/4 cup at a time. You may or may not use all the pasta water, depending on the thickness of the sauce.
- Add the reserved peas and asparagus tips. Cook over low heat, until the sauce comes together and is creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with more grated Parmesan cheese.
Disclosure: This post is part of a collaboration between DairyPure and SheKnows