I think we can all agree that pasta is the best vehicle for vegetables. And come spring, I crave asparagus, ham and peas. (I realize ham isn’t a vegetable, but a girl can dream.) I think it’s something to do with traditional Easter dinners I ate as a child. This springtime spaghetti Alfredo proves that there’s no better way to eat that trio than smothered in a rich garlicky Parmesan sauce.
Really, you could swap the meat and veggies in this recipe with whatever you have on hand. Red bell peppers and artichokes would be good, and you could swap the ham for chicken. It’s springtime spaghetti Alfredo, but you could adapt it for any season.
Over the last few years, I’ve started to make my own pasta sauces, and Alfredo is one of my favorites. It comes together quickly and only requires a couple extra steps. But if you’re short on time, the jarred stuff is just fine. If making your own, be sure to reserve your pasta water, which is key to getting a glossy sauce that coats every noodle.
This springtime spaghetti Alfredo pairs beautifully with a rosé, and I bet it would be good with a gin and tonic as well. Enjoy!
Springtime Spaghetti Alfredo
For the sauce
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill GF all-purpose flour)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- ¾ cup whole milk
- 1 ½ cups freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup pasta water from the spaghetti
For the pasta
- 1 pound gluten-free spaghetti
- 1 teaspoon salt for pasta water
- ½ tablespoon butter
- ½ pound fresh asparagus, ends trimmed and chopped into 2-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup shallots or red onion, sliced lengthwise into 1-inch strips
- ½ pound cooked ham or bacon, cubed
- ¾ cup frozen peas
- Fill large stock pot with water, salt liberally and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions. When done, reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water in a bowl or cup and set aside. Drain the pasta and allow to cool.
- While pasta is cooking, heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add ½ tablespoon butter and sauté asparagus about 5 minutes, until it turns bright green and it’s tender but isn’t yet browning. Set aside.
- Using same sauté pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add shallots or onions and cook, stirring occasionally until alliums turn golden, about 20-25 minutes. Add another ½ tablespoon of butter if onions start to burn before they fully caramelize.
- Now for the sauce: In the stock pot, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium. Add flour, whisking constantly. After about 30 seconds, when a roux has formed, add the garlic, continuing to stir. Cook for 30 seconds more, taking care to not burn the garlic. Add the milk and cream and continue to stir, allowing the sauce to simmer and thicken. Then add cheese, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Be wary of adding any salt here, as ham (added next step) is very salty.
- When cheese has melted, add pasta, asparagus, ham, peas and onion or shallot (as soon as they’re done). Give the pasta a good stir and add pasta water, ¼ cup at a time, until sauce is the desired consistency. I usually end up adding about ½ a cup. The sauce should thicken as it cools. Salt and pepper to taste and serve!