Rigatoni with Green Vegetables and Avocado

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I don’t pay for cable TV in my apartment.  I get the basics, like ABC, Fox, NBC, CBS, and, oddly enough, The CW (xoxo, Gossip Girl, duh) because that’s what came with my building.  I do not, however, get the Food Network.  For the most part I’ve been dealing with this by sneaking 5 minute snippets of Giada or Ida when I’m over at K’s house, which I have to do while he’s not looking because cooking shows aren’t his thang.  I’ve also been getting a healthy dose of food inspiration from food blogs.  So, you know, I’ve been getting along just fine I guess.
I really love the competition shows on the Food Network, like Iron Chef and Next Food Network Star.  However, I do not care for the baking competition shows like Cupcake Wars.  Really?  I don’t care how many catty, crazy women you combine in one kitchen, it’s not hardcore. They’re cupcakes for Pete’s sake!

Last night I made a pasta that was inspired by the good competition shows in which the hosts give the chefs some crazy set of guidelines, ingredients and time constraints and the chefs have to produce something gourmet.  My guidelines?  All of the star ingredients must be green.  My time frame?  30 Minutes.  I was really hungry.

Introducing Rigatoni with Green Vegetables and Avocado, or Green Pasta.

 

I started by boiling some heavily salted water for the pasta.

Meanwhile, I chopped some asparagus on the bias (diagonally) and minced up some garlic.  I also got some frozen peas out of the freezer to start thawing a bit.

I heated some olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and added the asparagus and cooked for about 4 minutes.

Then I added the minced garlic and cooked for about 2 more minutes, until the garlic was fragrant but not burned.

Next come the peas.  The last time I cooked with frozen peas, I, for some reason, violently ripped open the bag and peas went everywhere.  Peas are small and round and will roll places you never thought a pea would roll.  I found them all over my apartment.  This time, I very carefully opened just the corner of the bag of frozen peas and then very carefully poured about half of the bag into the skillet and then very carefully stirred. Thankfully, no peas were harmed (or lost) in the making of this dish.

I let this cook until the peas were no longer frozen, then I added some lemon zest, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

That’s my hand.  And those are my once-manicured-now-chipped nails.  Sorry Mom.  Lets move on.

I let the veggies and lemon zest get to know each other for a couple of minutes then I added some half and half and the juice of the lemon and turned the heat down to medium-low.

While that was simmering and reducing and thickening, I added my rigatoni to the boiling water and cooked until about 2 minutes from al dente.  Then I reserved about 1/2 cup of pasta water, drained the pasta and put it back into the pot.  I added about 2 large handfuls of arugula on top of the hot pasta and then the peas and asparagus mixture on top of that.  I splashed a little bit of the starchy pasta water into it so it wouldn’t get too dry, and tossed to combine until all the liquid was absorbed, about 2 minutes.

I removed the pasta from the heat and added a tablespoon of butter to finish the sauce and about 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.  I tossed to combine until the butter and cheese were well incorporated.

 

So, that’s a great pasta dish.  It’s ready to serve, right?

See, while all this was happening, I also halved an avocado and cut it into cubes. When the pasta was finished, I put it in a bowl, sprinkled some more Parmesan cheese on top and some salt and pepper.  Then I topped with avocado.   Yep.  Avocado.

Avocado on hot pasta.

 

What happened was this:  the pasta was perfectly cooked to al dente, the peas were sweet and delightfully mushy, the asparagus were a little firm, and the avocados were soft and creamy.  It was a texture-extravaganza in a bowl.

 

I need to talk more about the avocados though.  I really can’t describe how they took this pasta from great to HOLY COW WHAT AM I EATING.  They were like softened butter.  Butter!  Is that weird?  I don’t think so.

 

 

Also, the shape of the pasta, with its large tubular-ness, is perfect because it catches some of the peas inside the pasta tubes.  Avocado and asparagus on the outside, peas on the inside–it’s like a flavor-explosion every time you take a bite.

 

Also, avocado rules.

 

 

Here’s the recipe!

 

Rigatoni with Green Vegetables and Avocado (serves 4)

 

1 box of rigatoni

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 a bunch of asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal

1/2 bag of frozen peas

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 cups of arugula (about 2 large handfuls)

Lemon zest and lemon juice of one lemon

1/3 cup half and half (I used fat free)

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1/4 teaspoon Pepper

a pinch of Crushed Red Pepper (depending on your heat tolerance)

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 an avocado, cubed, per person

 

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.  Add 1 box of rigatoni and cook until about 2 minutes from al dente.  Reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water and drain.

 

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in large skillet and add the asparagus.  Cook for about 4 minutes, add the garlic, and cook for 2 more.  Then add the frozen peas and cook until they are bright green and no longer frozen.

 

Add the zest of one lemon, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.  Cook for about 1 minute then add the half and half and the lemon juice.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until the sauce has thickened and the asparagus is tender.

 

Halve an avocado and cut it into cubes.

When the pasta is drained, return to the pot and add the arugula.  Pour the pea and asparagus mixture over the arugula and add some of the starchy pasta water if it looks dry.  Toss for about 1-2 minutes until the pasta finishes cooking and the liquid has been absorbed.  Remove from the heat and add the Parmesan cheese and butter and toss until well incorporated.  Adjust seasonings if needed.

 

Serve hot, in bowls with the cubed avocado on top and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and some fresh cracked black pepper.

 

Sit back and wonder where avocado pasta has been all your life.

 

Enjoy!

 

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