Spring is such a great time of year, isn't it? The weather is starting to warm up, trees and flowers are finally in bloom, and hearty winter produce is giving way to different varieties of fruits and veggies, inspiring us all to cook lighter, more refreshing meals. One thing that doesn't change from season to season, however, (at least for me) is the need for meals to come together quickly.... especially weeknight meals. That's where a dish like this one comes in. Packed with some of the season's most iconic produce but hearty enough to stave off the still-cool Spring evenings, this dish hits all the right notes, and does so in less than 20 minutes. Oh, and can we talk about the sauce for a second? It's literally just some fresh goat cheese melted into the rest of the ingredients, its tanginess punctuated by my herbal, slightly floral, always delightful Herbes de Provence. Yum.
If you're not a fan of tortellini you can absolutely use a dried short pasta variety - orecchiette perhaps, or fusilli - something that will catch the sauce. And if you prefer a vegetarian version, just leave out the pancetta and increase the butter and olive oil slightly.
Now let's get cooking!
Spring Tortellini with Pancetta and Goat Cheese
4 ounces diced pancetta (bacon works too)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
1 pound fresh tortellini of choice (I used a prosciutto and ricotta-filled one)
1 cup shelled fresh or frozen peas
6-8 stalks asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
1 handful fresh mint and/or basil leaves, roughly torn or thinly sliced
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook pancetta, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Remove pancetta to a bowl and turn down heat to medium. Add olive oil and butter. Once the butter is melted, add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot begins to turn translucent. Add the Herbes de Provence and stir to combine.
Once the pot of water has reached a boil, add the tortellini and cook, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking. A minute or two before the pasta is done cooking, add the peas and asparagus to the pot.
Once the pasta and vegetables are done cooking (you want the vegetables to have a little bit of bite), drain the pot, reserving about 1/2 cup of pasta water. Add the pasta and vegetables to the skillet, along with the cooked pancetta and the goat cheese. Stir to melt the cheese and coat the pasta, adding reserved pasta water a tablespoon at a time to reach a nice saucy consistency.
Top with fresh mint and/or basil and serve immediately.