Pasta with pea sauce, asparagus and ham

With the changing of spring into summer here in Northeast Alabama, the tail-end of fresh asparagus and spring peas calls for some creative recipes to use up these seasonal goodies. I was recently given a big bag of over-the-top peas and was in a “pickle” to come up with how to use them. The following recipe solved that dilemma in a fast and tasty way. The creamy pea sauce makes a wonderful combination with the crunch vegetables. Although I usually cook vegetarian style, this recipe calls for ham which you can omit if you care to (or cook a big ham and serve this recipe as a side dish). If you do use ham, choose a good, nitrate-free brand, such as Boar’s Head (available at our local Foodland).
If you are lucky enough to be celebrating Father’s Day on Sunday, the 18th  of this month, invite Dad and Mom over and wow them with this dish, fresh from the garden, hopefully.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
6 scallions, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons fresh sage,  finely chopped , plus extra for garnish
1 cup fresh sugar snap peas, strings removed and cut in to 1/2 inch pieces
1 pound fresh asparagus, washed, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
Finely grated rind of 2 lemons (If you can’t find organic, be sure to scrub the store bought ones well.)
2 cups vegetable stock
1 pound spaghetti, or egg noodles
1/2 pound chopped, cooked ham, if desired
4 tablespoons plain, low-fat Greek yogurt
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1) Heat the oil in a 2 quart pot over low heat. Add the scallions and cook gently for 2-3 minutes-do not brown. Add the garlic and sage  and cook for one more minute or until fragrant.
2) Add the peas, 1/3 of the asparagus, lemon rind and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes or until tender but still retaining a bright green color. Cool and puree in a blender or food processor until very smooth. Return to pot and set aside.
3) Meanwhile, roast the remaining asparagus in a 400 degree oven until crisp, tender- about 4-6 minutes if fresh. Set aside to cool.
4) Cook the pasta according to package directions to your favorite degree of doneness. Drain well. Do not rinse.
5) Add the cooked asparagus and ham to the pea sauce and gently reheat. Whisk in the yogurt and toss all with the pasta. Taste for seasonings and correct as needed. Garnish with a few extra sage leaves and asparagus tips and serve.
At the table, pass freshly grated cheese if desired. A crisp salad will complete the main course. Last week’s recipe of “Pears with Blue Cheese (Stilton) filling on  water crackers would serve as a nice dessert and cheese course combined. Easy pea-sy! Enjoy!

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