Hello and welcome to Djalali Cooks. This is a great pasta recipe; creamy, light, and so easy to customize to whatever veggies and herbs you have in the fridge. Today, I have asparagus and fresh English peas, with tarragon, dill and basil. The creamy, tangy goat cheese sauce is super simple – just goat cheese and pasta cooking water. As for the pasta shape, use your favorite! I happen to really like large tubular pastas because they tend to gather and hold herbs and veggies inside, so it’s easy to get a perfect bite, loaded with veggies and flavor. Let’s make Pasta with Spring Vegetables and Creamy Goat Cheese.
This pasta is like Rigatoni, but it’s a little shorter and without ridges. It’s called Calamarata, its name derives from its resemblance to calamari rings. The brand I like is Garofalo. I find it locally, but you can order it online too. I am going to cook the whole 16 ounce package, planning for leftovers. Whatever pasta you choose to use, get a large pot with two quarts of water and 1 tablespoon of Diamond Kosher Salt. We want to use half the normal amount of water so that the pasta water we use for the sauce has a higher concentration of starch. It’s going to help the sauce thicken and coat the pasta.
While we wait for the water to come to a boil, prep the asparagus. Slice off the woody ends and then slice the bunch, on the bias, into 1-2 inch pieces; you don’t have to be super-precise. For the herbs, just pile them together and run your knife over them a few times. I am leaving the basil leaves whole, and will add them as garnish to the finished dish. This way the leaves won’t get bruised and will retain their fresh texture. I have a 6-ounce package of fresh peas and a 4-ounce package of plain goat cheese.
Sauté the Veggies
Over medium-high heat, heat a tablespoon of olive oil until shimmery, reduce the heat to medium and sauté the asparagus for about 3 minutes. Season with Kosher salt, then add the peas. Sauté for another 2 minutes and remove from heat, set aside.
When the water is boiling add the pasta and cook a couple minutes short of al dente. If you’re using a rigatoni or large tubular pasta, this will be about 12-13 minutes. We are going to toss the pasta with water and cheese over low heat to finish it to al dente. When the pasta is just shy of al dente, use a spider or a skimmer to fish out the pasta and transfer it to a bowl, leaving all the pasta water behind. We don’t yet know how much we want to use, so let’s keep the whole pot of it.
Goat Cheese Sauce
In a separate pot, over low heat, add one cup of the hot pasta water and the goat cheese. Stir the cheese to help it melt. Once it’s mostly melted, add the hot pasta. This is not going to look right but, vigorously stir the pasta in the sauce. Be sure to bring up sauce and pasta from the bottom and fully coat the pasta in the sauce. As you vigorously and continually stir, the sauce will begin to thicken. If it seems like there isn’t enough sauce to evenly coat the pasta, add more pasta water, a few tablespoons at a time. Keep stirring…it’s going to work.
It’s going to seem like it will not thicken and come together, but keep stirring. After about 3 minutes of constant vigorous stirring, it will become a light and creamy sauce. Once the pasta is evenly coated and the sauce is creamy, add the sautéd veggies and stir to coat the veggies and turn off the heat. You can add a little more pasta water to loosen the sauce if it starts to look clumpy or dry – just pour on a couple tablespoons and stir.
Then add the chopped dill and tarragon, give it a stir and that’s it!
Pasta with Spring Vegetables and Creamy Goat Cheese
Plate portions in a shallow bowl and top with a few extra dill sprigs, whole basil leaves, fresh cracked black pepper, flaky sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil, if you like.
Hang on to the pasta water for just a bit longer; as the pasta cools, the sauce will need a little pasta water jumpstart to loosen it back up and make it creamy again. This is helpful if you’re going back for seconds, or just before you package the leftovers in a container, give it a little more pasta water and a few stirs.
No matter which type of pasta, or the veggies and herbs you choose to use, this creamy sauce is so simple with the light, fresh tangy flavor of goat cheese. I hope you give this Pasta with Spring Vegetables a try! Reach out to let me know how you make it your own; you can find me on Instagram and facebook, too! If you are looking for another spring pasta dish, try my Rigatoni with Pancetta and Peas. Take care, be well and have a lovely weekend, xo Kelly
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Pasta with Spring Vegetables and Creamy Goat Cheese
Bouncy pasta, fresh herbs, sautéd asparagus and peas coated in a light and creamy goat cheese sauce; it's light fresh and so good for spring!
- 16 oz. Tubular Pasta, like Rigatoni or Calamarata
- 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
- 1 bunch Asparagus, sliced into 2-inch pieces
- 6 oz. Fresh or Frozen Peas
- Kosher Salt, to taste
- 4 oz. Plain Goat Cheese
- 1 cup Fresh Herbs, chopped (Tarragon, Dill or Parsley)
- Fresh Basil Leaves, for garnish
- Fresh Cracked Black Pepper, for garnish
- Flaky Sea Salt, for garnish
Bring 2 quarts of water seasoned with 1 tablespoon of Diamond Kosher Salt to boil.
Meanwhile, over medium-high heat, heat a tablespoon of olive oil until shimmery, reduce the heat to medium and sauté the asparagus for about 3 minutes. Season with Kosher salt, then add the peas. Sauté for another 2 minutes and remove from heat, set aside.
Add pasta to boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until pasta is just shy of al dente, about 12-13 minutes.
Use a skimmer or spider to transfer pasta to a separate large bowl, reserving the pasta water.
In a separate pot over low heat, add 1 cup of pasta water and the goat cheese. Stir to melt the goat cheese.
When goat cheese is almost fully melted, add cooked pasta to the pot and stir vigorously and continuously until the cheese sauce is thickened and coats the pasta. Add more more pasta water, a little at a time, as needed to keep sauce loose and creamy.
Add the sautéd veggies to the pasta and stir to coat, adding more more pasta water as needed to keep sauce loose and creamy.
Add the chopped fresh herbs and stir and serve with more fresh dill sprigs and while basil leaves, fresh cracked black pepper and flaky sea salt.
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