I’ve come to realize that I tend to be most inspired by seasonal food, but not all of it. Winter and summer really get my creative juices flowing–rich, hearty braises or light, fruity, delicate sources of refreshment seem to come to mind without difficulty. Spring though gets me stuck in the mud. I’m not sure why–I don’t have access to the full range of produce, but I know its right around the corner. This dish is me trying to break out of that rut by enjoying some of the best of what spring has to offer.
The foundation of this dish is wild mushroom agnolotti (think criminis, portabello, and cheese stuffed ravioli), tossed with butter sautéed asparagus, peas, and prosciutto, all topped with a goat cheese cream sauce to bring everyone together. The total combination was excellent and very “springy” (yay, just what I wanted). A forkful of everything yielded a complex set of flavors I would best describe as earthy, sweet, delicate, crisp, tangy, salty, and creamy. The asparagus gave things a nice bite with a delicate flavor, which, married with peas, just screams spring time to me. The agnolotti were excellent and the mushroom/cheese filling was a nice complement to the vegetables–an earthy note that I think fills out the flavor you get from the lighter greens.
The goat cheese cream sauce was rich and tangy, but not quite as “goat cheesy” as I expected, coming off as a bit more nutty and subtle than I anticipated. Having tasted it though, I wouldn’t change a thing as any more potency would have stolen the show from the other elements of the dish. The prosciutto added both a richness and saltiness, that (a) I love and (b) brings a great balance to the cream sauce. I would definitely pursue this dish again and this general flavor combination as I think it would work beautifully on other pastas as well. If I didn’t have mushroom stuffed pasta handy though, I would strongly consider including sautéed mushrooms in some form.
Now I’m not one for taking shortcuts or doing product reviews, but every now and then, I’ll get some freebies sent my way that I enjoy (and every now and then, I need to take a shortcut. The baby makes sure of that now 😉 ). This recipe employed two such items (and have no fear, you can always substitute with ease). First, courtesy of Foodbuzz, I received a package of Buitoni Wild Mushroom Agnolott (which is very similar to ravioli). The name sounded delicious and the result didn’t disappoint.
Second, courtesy of Daregal, I received an assortment of fresh, frozen herbs (seriously, it was a lot! I’m stoked to try them all). If that description (fresh + frozen?!) had you do a double take, I did, too. In a nutshell, they grow herbs, pick them fresh, and immediately chop and freeze them, the idea being that you then have a container where you can shake fresh herbs out of into your dish (and they thaw out immediately). I was suspicious at first, but the end result allayed any worries I had. These are definitely convenient for me when I’m not certain I’ll use up all of my fresh herbs before they go bad and they are just like using fresh herbs (as opposed to dried herbs). So I just wanted to say thanks to both Foodbuzz and Daregal!
- 1 package (9 oz) Buitoni Wild Mushroom Agnolotti (you could substitute ravioli, or any “bulky” shaped pasta)
- 1/2 cups peas
- ~10 spears asparagus
- 4 oz prosciutto
- Goat Cheese Cream Sauce
- 1 shallot
- 4 cloves garlic
- 3 tbsp flour
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup cream
- 4 oz goat cheese (of the soft, chevre variety)
- 1 Tbsp oregano
- dash of nutmeg
This dinner is a three pot dinner. Pot number one: cook the pasta per directions. The agnolotti called for 4-6 minutes gentle boiling. Try to do this towards the end so everything finishes at the same time.
In pot number two, begin the cream sauce. The first step is to make a simple roux. Melt the butter, and once it stops foaming, add the flour. Whisk this and cook the flour on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Then, add the milk and cream, continuing the cook (and whisk to break any lumps) for another five minutes.
Meanwhile, in pot number three, sauté the vegetables. Begin by finely mincing the shallot and garlic. Chop off the woody bottom parts on the asparagus, coarsely chop the prosciutto, and get the peas. Sauté the shallots in butter for ~5 minutes before adding the garlic and cooking for a minute further. Once the shallot and garlic are done cooking, dump them into the cream sauce pot.
Melt down some more butter if your pan is dry and now begin to sauté the asparagus for 5 minutes. Add the peas and prosciutto for 2 minutes further and then remove this from heat.
By now, you should be just about done cooking everything. Remove the sauce pot from heat and add the goat cheese into the cream sauce along with the oregano, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Whisk until the cheese melts down and is totally incorporated into the sauce.
Finally, everything is done. Plate the agnolotti, strew on some of the sautéed vegetables and prosciutto, and top with a good bit of the cream sauce. Enjoy!