Maybe it’s because the colors take a little longer to change in California (depending on the part of the state, they may not change at all)– or maybe I just like making, looking at and eating green things. In any case, I’m soaking up all the green I can as the east bay gets a little gloomier and the leaves begin to fall.

Half a dozen leftover asparagus spears in the vegetable drawer, a handful of beans picked straight from the vine and an undying love for pea shoots inspired this recipe, but you could use whatever vegetables you have on hand. This combination achieved a crispness and lightness that played well off of heavier pasta and dairy.

After a quick, low sauté in butter and olive oil, these vegetables come together with whole wheat pasta, a dash of heavy cream, some grana padano (parmesan or pecorino romano would work as well) and some of the pasta cooking water to form a light dish reminiscent of sunny days while hinting at the heaviness of winter to come. Serve with garlic bread and a light, fruit-based dessert for a fantastic meal for two– the recipe will easily double or triple to suit your needs.

Late Summer Farfalle Primavera (inspired by the weekend gourmande)
serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side

4 oz. whole wheat farfalle, penne, or other small pasta
1 1/2 – 2 c crisp green vegetables (asparagus, beans, peas, etc.)
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp heavy cream
1/4 c grated grana padano (or other hard Italian cheese)
salt and pepper (or seasoning of choice)
pea shoots to garnish

Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil; salt and add pasta, cooking until al dente. Reserve 1 c pasta water before draining; drain (do not shake or rinse pasta) and return to pan.

Meanwhile, cut longer vegetables (asparagus, unshelled beans or peas) on the diagonal in 1-inch strips. Heat butter and olive oil in large saucepan over medium-low heat and add cut vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and sweat for 3-5 minutes. Add any shelled beans or peas (anything smaller) and sauté 2-3 minutes more (if using frozen beans or peas, make sure they are thoroughly warmed).

When vegetables are tender but still crisp, add pasta and reduce heat to very low. Add a drizzle of reserved pasta water and toss to coat in oily-starchy mix. Add heavy cream and toss until everything is lightly covered; add grana padano and mix until cheese is integrated. Add more pasta water as necessary to create desired consistency, and taste for seasoning. (If not serving immediately, cover, remove from heat and add more warm pasta water as necessary to keep dish from drying out.)

To serve, plate pasta in shallow bowls and garnish with fresh grated pepper, pea shoots or more cheese.