Spring is in the air in my kitchen, even if the weather isn’t showing steady signs of the season.  Although peas aren’t generally my favorite vegetable, I am always drawn to their perky color come spring.  Peas and mint are a classic combination because the bright green color and creamy texture is complimented by mint’s equally bright and fresh flavor.  I’ve combined them here to form a pasta sauce, which is really a very comforting and healthy dish.  I like to think of this as a green mac-n-cheese, minus the copious amounts of cheese.  The pea sauce has a really cream, rich texture that evokes the same comforting quality in your mouth.  If you like a thinner pasta sauce, add additional chicken stock or olive oil as you puree the peas.  And if mint isn’t your thing, try substitute fresh basil instead.

I used brown rice pasta in this dish, but regular semolina pasta or whole wheat pasta would be equally delicious.

Give this dish a try – it’s really a celebration of the season.  Enjoy!

Spring Pea & Parmesan Pasta

1 lb pasta

1 Tbs. olive oil

½ medium red onion, chopped

1 Tbs. agave nectar or honey

½ tsp. kosher salt

¼ tsp. fresh-ground black pepper

16oz fresh or frozen peas (2 cups)

1 Tbs. unsalted butter

½ Cup low-sodium chicken stock

¼ Cup chopped fresh mint leaves

Fresh-grated Parmesan cheese

1.            Bring large pot of salted water to boil and add pasta.  Cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente.

2.            Heat large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil and sauté onion until softened.  Add peas, agave nectar, salt and pepper.  Cook until peas are tender, 8-10 minutes.  Add butter and stir until melted.  Remove from heat and reserve ½ cup pea mixture.  Puree remaining pea mixture in food processor with chicken stock until mostly smooth.  Return pea puree and reserved whole peas to pan.

3.            Add drained pasta and chopped mint to peas toss to coat pasta.  Top with fresh-grated Parmesan and serve immediately.  Garnish with grated Parmesan and whole mint leaves, if desired.