Orange-Saffron Butter Sauce on Spring Vegetables and Pasta

What should I do with all those snow peas? Annie Somerville had a good idea in her book, FIELDS of GREENS. It is “Lingunie with Spring Vegetables and Orange-Saffron Butter”. I am pretty sure that you have to live in southern California to have ripe red and yellow peppers in spring. Annie makes her own Lingunie. I bought peppers and pretty green pasta from Trader Joe’s.

Fresh from the garden, Golden Sweet Snow Peas, English Peas and Shallots. Maybe next year I'll have a few asparagus from home.

 Tools and Equipment needed: Stockpot (or Pasta pot), knife and cutting board, large saute pan and tongs, colander, serving platter (or pasta bowl)

4 Tablespoons Butter, softened

1 generous pinch Saffron Threads, soaked in 1 Tablespoon hot water

Salt and Pepper

1/2 pound Asparagus, woody ends trimmed off

1/2 pound of any kind of Peas (I used a combination of shelled English and Snow)

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

2 Shallots, thinly sliced

1/2 red or yellow Bell Pepper, thinly sliced (I used 4 mini bells of various colors)

1/4 cup dry White Wine

Zest and Juice of 1 orange

1/2 pound (Annie uses fresh) Linguine

Garnish: Chive Blossom and Parmesan cheese

1. Put Pasta Water on to boil.

2. Lift the hydrated saffron threads from the water (save the water) and add them to the butter with a big pinch of salt (1/8 teaspoon), and a grind or pinch of pepper. Cream the spices into the butter and set at the ready.

3.  Slice the asparagus into 2 inch lengths. Shell English peas, trim snap and snow peas (which ever you are using) and set at the ready.

If your water has come to a boil, salt it and add the pasta. For the last three minutes of cooking time for the pasta, add the asparagus.

4. Preheat a large saute pan over medium heat. To the hot pan add the olive oil, shallots, and peppers with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and two or three grinds (or pinches) of black pepper. When the peppers have softened, 4 to 5 minutes, add the wine and juice to the saute pan with the peas. Continue to cook over medium heat until the liquid is reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes.

5.  Hopefully the pasta and asparagus will be ready as the liquid reduces in the saute pan.  Drain the pasta and asparagus. Give them a quick rinse in cold water.

6. Reduce the heat under the peppers. Add the orange zest and saffron soaking water to the peppers. Add the linguine and asparagus to the pan, toss with the vegetables.

7. Add the saffron butter to the vegetables. Gently heat the saffron butter with the pan juices to make a sauce for the linguine. Toss to coat the pasta.

8. Transfer to a serving platter. Grate Parmesan cheese over all and sprinkle with chive blossoms.

Good with Grilled Salmon Steaks

Somerville, Annie; Fields of Greens, page 121,Bantom Books, 1993


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