Cooking with Pete and Barb Marczyk: Spring has sprung pesto pasta

Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with the big, new kitchen. They often bring some of their market's choicest ingredients home with them, and cook up a feast.

Whitney Aris, who does the merchandising at Marczyk Fine Foods, came up with today's recipe, a spring pasta dish that benefits from Maestri Pastai's Foglie di Carciofo, a pasta whose name translates to "artichoke leaflets." It's imported from Italy, made with semolina flour and dehydrated artichokes, and, according to Aris, it's "wonderfully toothsome and delicious." If you can't find this particular pasta, however, Aris notes that you can substitute "any good pesto-grabbing pasta shape," including orecchiette or penne.

"I absolutely adore pesto, not only because it makes everything taste amazing but also because it's so quick to put together," she says, adding that the mint and basil "makes for brighter, springier flavors."

Spring has sprung pesto pasta

Serves four as an entree and six as a first course

For the pesto

1/3 cup pine nuts One small bunch fresh basil leaves One small bunch mint leaves, stems removed 3 small cloves garlic, roughly chopped Zest and juice of one lemon 1/3 cup olive oil 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated Generous teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste Generous teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste

For the pasta and vegetables

1 package Maestri Pastai Foglie Di Carciofo 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 bunch asparagus, woody parts removed 1 cup fiddlehead ferns, quickly blanched and cooled Juice of 1 lemon


1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and add pasta. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente. 2. In a food processor, pulse the pine nuts, basil and mint leaves, garlic, lemon juice and zest, and salt and pepper until the mixture is evenly chopped. With the blade running, slowly stream in the olive oil. Turn power off and remove blade, then mix in the Parmigiano-Reggiano with a spatula to combine. 3, Cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces. 4, In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat, until just barely smoking. 5. Reduce heat to medium and add asparagus and fiddlehead ferns. Stir-fry until just heated through, about three minutes. Remove pan from heat. 6. In a large serving bowl, toss pasta, fiddlehead ferns, asparagus, pesto, and juice of one lemon together until combined. Adjust seasonings and serve immediately.

For more from Pete, Barbara and Marczyk Fine Foods, visit the market website. And be sure to check out Pete's blog.

Follow @CafeWestword on Twitter

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson