Ahh the harbinger of spring! This year I’m determined to try out all of the bounty that early spring has to offer, and a recent trip to Whole Foods sealed the deal.

Baby artichokes, spring onions, green garlic, asparagus, lemon

The haul:

  • Baby artichokes – fully mature artichokes that grow closer to the ground; smaller, and without a pesky choke
  • Asparagus
  • Green garlic – young garlic whose cloves have not yet matured; they look similar to a thick green onion with oft-purplish colors on the base
  • Spring onions – young onions whose tops appear close to green onions, but whose bulbs are more defined

Also in tow: 1 organic lemon (a necessity given we’ll be using the zest!).

After tasting my first attempt there are some things I’d change about the recipe, so I’ll share that instead of my original version. As always, make changes according to taste and personal preference.

  • 1 organic, large lemon
  • 2 shoots of green garlic
  • 2 spring onions
  • ~8-9 sprigs of asparagus
  • 12 baby artichokes (often sold in a pack of 12)
  • 1/2 cup of peas (preferably fresh, shelled english peas – I used frozen)
  • 6-8 ounces of fusilli pasta (farfalle would also be a good choice)
  • 1/2 cup of good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetarian enhancement: imported parmesan to taste
  1. Zest the entire lemon and set the zest aside. Cut lemon in half.
  2. Trim the baby artichokes; however, bear in mind some of the artichokes may have a baby choke in the center that you need to carve out. If the middle feels papery or has a purple tinge, it likely has developed a very small choke that must be removed. I encountered this in 2 of the 12 baby artichokes. Cut each piece into quarters and place in a medium-sized bowl filled with water and the juice of half of the lemon.It’s surprising how much carnage occurs from this step! The below picture is only half of the remnants  of leaves/stems of my trimming extravaganza:
    Oh, the carnage!
  3. Trim the asparagus; cut into half inch pieces
  4. Cut off the top, tough ends of the green garlic (if the top feels closer to the top of a leek). Slice thinly and at an angle. They’ll smell up a storm, but don’t worry! When green garlic is cooked most of the intense flavor gives way to a more mellow, sweet taste.
  5. Remove the tops of the spring onions – only the bulb should remain. If a more shallot-like spring onion, remove the outer, papery/tough layer. Slice thinly.
    Spring onions and green garlic

    Spring onions and green garlic

  6. In a large pan, combine spring onions and green garlic with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Cook over low/medium heat for approximately 10-15 minutes, until softened
  7. Heat water in large pot for the pasta – (once boiling, add the fusilli and cook per manufacturer instructions; though don’t wait for the water to boil to move on!)
  8. Drain and add baby artichokes – increase heat to medium. Cook until almost artichokes are almost tender, approximately 10 minutes
  9. While the artichokes are cooking, bring a small pot of water to boil. Using a fine-meshed strainer, quickly blanch the lemon zest for no more than 1 minute (this removes some of the sharpness and mellow out the lemon flavor). Rinse under cold water after removing.
  10. Add asparagus to pan; cook until tender, approximately 5 minutes. Also add the remaining half lemon’s worth of juice and all of the zest. Combine thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste (I didn’t add much salt as I planned on adding parmesan, while Kevin added pepper later on to his)
  11. Add peas and combine for 2 minutes. Then, reduce heat to low on the pan if the pasta is not done yet
  12. Once the pasta finishes, add approximately 3-4 tablespoons of the pasta water to the pan and increase heat to medium – stir occasionally until sauce has thickened (takes a few  minutes)
  13. Remove pan from heat. Add hearty amount of the sauce to some fusilli, and drizzle up to half of the remaining olive oil (or however much suits your fancy!) on top.
  14. Vegetarian enhancement: add 1/8th of a cup of freshly grated, imported parmesan and mix in. Though I usually overkill on cheese amounts, in this case the taste of the veggies should shine through, so you don’t want to overdo it.