“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” ~ Mark Twain
As soon as the weather begins to turn warm and the signs of Spring begin to appear … robins returning to build their nests, asparagus making its seasonal debut, backyard grills coming out of hibernation … I begin to get excited for my favorite pasta dish, full of flavors that remind me of Spring … and yes, I want it so!
I don’t know what it is about lemon and spinach that remind me of Spring … perhaps it’s the vibrant colors of yellow and green or the tangy flavor that the combination of these ingredients provides … but either way, I will make and eat this quick and easy Spring favorite multiple times in the months ahead.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Speedy Spring Pasta
- 12 ounces fresh pasta
- 4 ounces pancetta, chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
- 1 to 2 tablespoon champagne vinegar
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 16 ounces fresh spinach, roughly chopped or chiffonade
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil; season with salt.
2. Combine pancetta and olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until pancetta is begins to render and brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add chopped garlic and red pepper. Continue to cook until pancetta is fully-rendered and browned and garlic is cooked. Add champagne vinegar to “deglaze” pan.
3. Add fresh pasta to boiling water and cook 1-3 minutes (when pasta floats to the top, it’s ready). Add cooked pasta to skillet and toss with pancetta mixture. Add lemon juice, lemon zest, and spinach; toss together and cook briefly, just until spinach begins to wilt. If pasta seems dry, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste; serve.
NOTES: This recipe makes three generous entree portions for four smaller entree portions. Oh, feel free to up the spiciness factor with more crushed red pepper if you like things spicy!