When I think of spring the first thing that comes to my mind is the season's tender fresh vegetables. Whether they're from your home garden or the farmers' market, springtime carrots, radishes, onions, peas, asparagus -- the list just goes on and on -- taste incredibly sweet and delicious at this time of year, especially after the cold months of winter.

These new seasonal vegetables are at their best when you prepare and eat them in the simplest of ways. Some, such as carrots and radishes, are wonderful just rinsed off and eaten raw right out of your hand, or sliced up and tossed with salads. Others benefit from just the quickest cooking, so they still have an edge of crispness to them and their bright colors and flavors are only enhanced by their brief exposure to heat.

Cooked in this way, spring vegetables really shine when they have a showcase, similar to the way colors come together on a canvas to become a beautiful painting. That's why I like to serve them tossed with pasta, as I do in my recipe for Bow Ties with Spring Vegetables and Roasted Garlic.

Not only does this dish taste delicious, but it also looks incredibly beautiful, with all the different shapes and color of the vegetables standing out against the creamy white pasta shapes. I like to use bow ties (also sometimes called farfalle, the Italian word for butterflies) because they're so attractive and so easy to toss together and eat along with the pieces of vegetable. But you could also substitute other favorite bite-sized shapes such as penne (pen-shaped tubes), fusilli (squiggly fuse shapes), or ruote (wheel shapes). (I should also add that my two young sons think small shapes like these are fun to eat, so using these pastas could increase the chance that children will eat some of the vegetables, too!)

Another part of this dish that helps to highlight the vegetables is the roasted garlic, for which I also include a recipe here. Cooking garlic in the oven until its pulp is soft and golden brown caramelizes its natural sugars, transforming its flavor from sharp, strong, and pungent to surprisingly sweet and mellow, a perfect complement to springtime produce. It's easy to do, and the garlic keep for several days refrigerated in a tightly covered container, ready to season meat, poultry, or seafood; to spread on toasted slices of a good country loaf for incredible garlic bread; or to add to another batch of pasta with vegetables.

I guarantee you'll want to make this dish again and again. After all, now that spring is almost here, farmers' markets will be offering wonderful new surprises almost every day.

Bow Ties with Spring Vegetables & Roasted Garlic

Serves 4

2 tablespoons flavored oil from oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

1 tablespoon Roasted Garlic (recipe follows)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes

2 cups organic chicken broth

2 teaspoons each chopped fresh oregano and thyme leaves

4 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground white pepper

2 ounces organic green beans, trimmed

1 medium organic carrot, trimmed and thinly sliced

12 pencil-thin spears asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch slices

1 cup broccoli florets

1/2 cup shelled fresh peas

12 ounces dried bow-tie pasta

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil and a medium saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet or saute pan, heat the flavored oil over medium heat. Add the roasted garlic, butter, tomatoes, and broth. Season with the oregano, thyme, 2 tablespoons of parsley, and salt and pepper. Simmer until the liquid reduces and thickens slightly.

Meanwhile, in separate batches, boil each of the vegetables for 1 minute in the saucepan of salted water. As each vegetable is done, remove it with a wire skimmer, rinse under cold running water until cool, drain well, and transfer to a bowl to set aside.

When the sauce has reduced, add all the vegetables to it and stir well to heat them through. Keep the sauce warm.

Add salt to the stockpot and stir in the bow-tie pasta. Cook until al dente, tender but still slightly chewy, following the manufacturer's suggested cooking time.

Drain the pasta and stir it, still slightly dripping, into the sauce until coated well. Remove the skillet from the heat and sprinkle and stir in the Parmesan.

To serve, divide the pasta and vegetables among 4 large warmed plates or pasta bowls. Sprinkle each serving with some of the remaining parsley and serve immediately.


Makes about 1/2 cup

4 whole heads garlic

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Arrange the garlic heads in a small roasting pan and drizzle with the olive oil, turning them to coat them well.

Put the pan in the oven and roast until the garlic is very tender when gently squeezed with a hand protected with an oven glove, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the pan from the oven and leave at room temperature until cool enough to handle.

When the garlic is cool, cut the heads crosswise in half with a serrated knife. Remove the softened garlic pulp, either by squeezing each half or by scooping out the garlic with a tiny teaspoon or knife.

Transfer the garlic to a container, cover, and refrigerate to use as needed.


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